Soma mine firm blames disaster on 'unprecedented' fire

The mining company in charge of the Soma mine said system measurements were normal 5 minutes before Tuesday's disaster which killed 284 workers.

Soma mine firm blames disaster on 'unprecedented' fire

World Bulletin / News Desk

An 'unprecedented' fire was behind Tuesday's mining disaster in Turkey's west, said Soma Mining Inc, the owner of the mine in Soma district which has seen the worst mining accident in Turkish history.

In a statement late on Thursday, the company described the fire as "inexplicable" from a technical standpoint, and said its reasons would only become clear after a thorough probe.

"Unfortunately, an inexplicable fire that has never been witnessed before took place in our enterprises", it said.

"The reasons behind the fact that the fire spread faster than normal conditions, despite all safety measures taken, will be clear after a detailed investigation. ”

The statement said all data were recorded as normal by the measurement mechanisms five minutes prior to the fire.

The mine, made up of pathways 10-km long in total, has 3,000 workers and has been run by the company since 2009.

The disaster struck on Tuesday in the Soma district of western Manisa province after a fire broke out inside a mine, trapping nearly 800 workers underground. The death toll is feared to rise as some still remain stranded.

Search and rescue continue at Turkish coal mine

Search-and-rescue operations and psychological rehabilitation activities involving 1,289 personnel are being kept on in the town of Soma following the coal mine fire which has claimed 284 lives so far.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) issued a statement on Thursday saying the operations were continuing and the number of specialized mining search-and-rescue workers from the Turkish Hardcoal Institution had been increased to 596, while psychological support staff and medical personnel had been upped to 693.

"Search-and-rescue personnel who were also routed from AFAD provincial directorates located in Manisa, İzmir, Balikesir, Usak, Denizli, Afyon, Sakarya, the National Medical Rescue Team and 112 Emergency Squad," the statement read.

The presidency stated that 693 support personnel and overhead personnel were in Soma to support rescue activities, in addition to search-and-rescue staff from the AFAD, General Staff, Family and Social Politics, Presidency of Religious Affairs, and the Municipalities of Manisa, İzmir, Balikesir, Usak and Denizli.

"Search-and-rescue operations and psychological rehabilitation activities are being kept on with 234 vehicles, containing 52 road ambulances, an ambulance helicopter, a plane and a mobile coordination vehicle," the AFAD said.

Free phone calls, internet for mine disaster region

A major telecoms company and an internet service provider in Turkey have announced they would offer one-year internet and network service free of charge to families of victims of Tuesday's coal mine disaster, and write off their debts.

Turk Telekom, Turkey's formerly state-owned telecommunications company, and affiliate internet service provider TTNET have waived unpaid phone and internet bills of the victims, said Lutfi Elvan, Minister for Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications in a written statement Thursday.

"We have asked leading phone and internet service providers to help out the families affected by the deadly coal mine fire in Soma, and they all have offered to contribute in various ways," Elvan said.

The firms have also offered the families free phone calls and internet service for one year. Wi-Fi hotspots and payphones will also be free in the area. Moreover, seven mobile internet devices have been sent out for the use of news staff and other professionals, Elvan said.

Mobile operator Avea, another affiliate, has offered its subscribers in the region 100 free minutes and 500 MB of internet usage per month, in addition to postponing payments, and delivering mobile charger units.

Likewise, Vodafone and Turkcell have offered their subscribers free minutes and text messages, in addition to reconnecting phone services which were cut off because of unpaid bills.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2014, 09:36