05/15/2014, 00.00
Send to a friend

Protests and criticism of Erdogan over 274 mine deaths

The premier was booed and his car assaulted by the angry and saddened crowd at Soma . The unions proclaim a day of the strike. Privatizations that reduce costs at the expense of safety blamed. Protests in Ankara, Istanbul , Izmir.

Ankara ( AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan was booed and his car assaulted yesterday, as he arrived in Soma for a press conference on the mining disaster. While the country has decreed three days of mourning, the unions have launched a one-day strike to protest against the lack of security in the mines, which has so far caused 274 deaths in Soma.

Two days ago, an explosion and fire caused the collapse of the coal mine in the city of western Turkey, while nearly 800 miners were underground.

At least 363 people were recovered alive in the early hours after the fire; about 80 of them have minor injuries. This morning, the rescue operation had to stop for a few hours due to a high concentration of gas; a fire is still blazing in the mine and this is hampering rescue efforts. Close by hundreds of relatives are waiting for any news on the fate of their loved ones, while corpses and survivors are hauled from the mine.

Meanwhile the controversy over the safety of the mine is growing. Privatized in 2005, it became the property of Soma Komur Isletmeleri AS, which calls itself the largest Turkish mining group.  The mine extracts coal, which is used to supply a nearby thermal power plant . About 40 % of the country depends on coal.

An MP of the opposition Republican People's Party  has accused the government of having blocked a proposal in parliament for a committee for mine safety only two weeks ago. Erdogan rejects the allegations and warned the opposition against using the incident for political gains . It is also true that this disaster could seriously damage the Prime Minister and his party , involved in corruption scandals and accused of worrying more about economic gain than the population.

One of the unions that have joined the strike said that the "perpetrators of the Soma massacre" are "those who pursue the privatization policies, which threaten the lives of the workers to cut costs". According to statistics from the ILO ( International Labour Office), there were accidents involving 13 thousand miners in 2013.

Yesterday, there were demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd .


Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Mine disaster in Turkey: More than 200 dead, hundreds of workers trapped underground
Nadu mine death toll rises to seven
Owners hide bodies and run after mine explosion
Henan, 20 miners killed and 17 trapped after a collapse
As miners slam poor safety, more bodies pulled from mine


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”