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13 May 2014 saw what can be termed as the deadliest mine disaster in the history of Turkey. The tragedy at Soma, Manisa coal mine which took away 301 lives and left above 80 injured clearly brings to light that coal miners are at a great risk even in the 21st century.

Mining accidents are said to be a common phenomenon in Turkey. This is because of the lack of proper safety measures. On that ill-fated day, an explosion caused fire two kilometers below the surface causing the mine’s elevator to stop functioning. The cause of the explosion is not yet clearly known. The victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

At the time of the incident, there were reportedly 787 miners underground out of which 486 survived. The explosion took place during the mine’s shift change. The bodies were pulled out on 17 May 2014, four days after the fire broke out after which the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz confirmed that the death toll was 301.

Miners protest in late 2013 over the risky mining conditions went unheeded. A state-owned company, the mines were privatized in the year 2005. And, since privatization the cost of coal production decreased tremendously.

Though the rescue team arrived immediately after the explosion took place, yet the fire and smoke initially hindered the process to rescue the miners trapped in the mine. Fresh air was supplied in an effort to keep the trapped miners alive underground. Following the incident there were protestors all around chanting "Don’t sleep, Soma, remember your dead!"

As part of the ongoing investigation, the Turkish police on May 18, detained 25 people, including the executives of the mining company for further investigation into the matter.





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