Infomercial, Sun 6a-7a
Studio Line: (316) 436-1330
Business Line: (316) 685-2121
A   A   A
Posted: Thursday, 15 May 2014 9:20AM

Death Toll at Turkish Coal Mine Soars Amid Protests

Ahmet Sik/Getty Images(SOMA, Turkey) -- Public fury about Turkey's catastrophic mining disaster exploded Wednesday with the government being held at least partly responsible for conditions leading to the deaths of at least 270 workers with another 150 still trapped far below the earth's surface.

The mining accident is the deadliest in Turkey since 266 workers were killed by a gas explosion on Turkey's Black Sea coast in 1992.

Rescue crews are working against time to save the trapped miners as fires continue to spread throughout tunnels as deep as one thousand feet underground.

Tuesday's accident at the coal mine in Soma, about 155 miles south of Istanbul, resulted from a power distribution explosion. It's believed most of fatalities were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As the drama continues to unfold at the mine, people in Soma, Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, took to the streets to vent their rage at the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who suggested that such accidents are "normal" in the coal mining industry.

In 2013, members of Turkey's opposition parties called for a probe into an alleged high number of accidents at the mine in Soma, but the motion wound up being tabled by the ruling government.

The mine owner, SOMA Komur Isletmeleri A.S., has promised an investigation into the accident, and claims it uses the "highest safety measures and constant controls."

However, the same company is a subsidiary of a company that is alleged to have close ties to Erdogan's ruling party.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

A   A   A