Turkey begins probe into deadly mine fire-UPDATED

Turkey's AK Party and the Turkish judiciary have initiated the probe, evidence from witnesses in the Soma mine accident is being collected by Turkey's prosecutors.

Turkey begins probe into deadly mine fire-UPDATED

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Turkish judiciary has assigned 28 lawyers to begin the investigation into the devastating Soma mine disaster in the western province of Manisa which claimed at least 284 lives on May 13.

Prosecutors from surrounding cities and towns have been appointed by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to oversee the post-mortem operations on bodies brought out from the Soma mine.

The disaster is the deadliest in Turkey’s history, surpassing an explosion of firedamp -- a flammable gas found in coal mines – that killed 263 miners in Zonguldak in 1992.

Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the deaths in Soma, a district in western Manisa province, were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

What caused the blast inside the mine is yet to be determined, but suspicions are centered on an explosion and fire which resulted from an electrical fault.

Yildiz said any negligence on the part of officials or the company managing the mine would be punished.

In a press conference on Friday, Soma mine managers denied claims of negligence and said they took all necessary measures to prevent such an incident.

They said in a written statement earlier that the disaster was “inexplicable” from a technical standpoint and unprecedented for the industry with respect to its causes.

Mines and stone quarries appear as some of the most dangerous places to work in Turkey, according to government statistics.

Since 1941, more than 3,000 people have died in Turkey and more than 100,000 have been injured in mining accidents, figures from Turkey's statistics agency show.

Political parties launch probe

MPs from Turkey’s ruling AK Party have submitted a motion to investigate the Soma coal mine tragedy which occurred in the west of the country on Tuesday.

MP Ali Riza Alaboyun and 38 other deputies tabled the motion on Friday. Alaboyun, who also heads the Turkish Parliament's NATO Committee, stressed that the mine was inspected in March within the scope of new work safety legislation and nothing was found contrary to these regulations.

Alaboyun said the tragedy occurred despite the inspection report and added that the mine had the latest production techniques.

"The tragedy must be investigated in detail and be clarified within the scope of the Turkish Parliament; for this reason, we demand the setting up of an investigation committee within parliament," Alaboyun said in his motion.

Meanwhile, the People's Democratic Party also submitted a motion of investigation in parliament as well as Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party on Thursday.

Those at fault 'to be held accountable'

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chairman and spokesperson Huseyin Celik promised a full-scale investigation into the coal mine blast which occurred on Tuesday killing 284 people.

“A full scale investigation into the coal mine fire in the western Turkish town of Soma continues and any negligence or deliberate wrongdoing in the incident will not be tolerated, he said on Friday. Those responsible for the accident will be held accountable.” He also offered condolences to the families of the victims.

The AK Party spokesman also addressed the issue of the controversial footage of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's apparently taking shelter in a supermarket during his visit in Soma. Allegations have arisen across social and foreign media claiming the Prime Minister was supposedly involved in a scuffle in said supermarket.

"All of these images are based on lies and nothing but a nonsense effort to defame the Prime minister, said Celik, The photograph in which the Prime Minister has been claimed to be taking shelter in a supermarket was actually taken by Anadolu Agency's photographer Kayhan Ozer on February 20, 2011 while the Prime Minister was talking on the phone in a supermarket in Istanbul. This kind of negative propaganda is being conducted by conscienceless people in such a tragic time in the history of the nation.”

In effect, the photograph appearing in some media was taken on February 20, 2011, by Anadolu Agency correspondent Kayhan Ozer, and shows Erdogan sitting on a stool in a supermarket in Istanbul while holding a phone conversation. The particular shot received a photography prize in Vakifbank-TFMD Press Photo Awards in 2011.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2014, 18:05