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Turkish Soma mine disaster: Owner denies negligence and responsibility for accident which killed 284 people

The owner of the Turkish mine where an explosion has killed at least 284 people launches a desperate damage limitation exercise

The owner of the Turkish mine where an explosion has killed at least 284 people launched a desperate damage limitation exercise yesterday.

Soma Holding claimed it was in no way at fault for the disaster.

“We still do not know how the accident happened,” said Soma Komur director Akin Celik.

“There is no negligence of ours in this incident. We all worked heart and soul. I have not seen such an incident in 20 years.”

And general manager Ramazan Dogru denied allegations that the fire began at a transformer, saying that the accident was caused by “coal dust explosion.”

But company officials had to admit that there was no working refuge chamber in the mine.

Soma Holding chairman Alp Gurkan admitted that when the facility was first privatised, the main refuge room could hold 500 people, but said this had been closed when production finished in the original part of the mine.

“We didn’t need a chamber in this area, our production was in the lower levels,” he said.

But there was no refuge room prepared before miners started work on the lower level.

Mr Gurkan claimed the company had taken all precautions and measures required in mines by law and said that work had been underway to build a new rescue chamber.

“If this accident had taken place three or four months later… we would have had a rescue chamber here,” he said.

Mr Gurkan insisted there was no legal obligation to have a working rescue chamber, but claimed that he had “spent his own money” on safety improvements.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz claimed that a maximum of 18 miners remained missing inside the devastated coal mine and the final death toll would be around 300.

The authorities’ inept handling of the disaster has stirred up fresh hostility toward Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

It was not helped when Turkish newspapers published a photograph of one of Mr Erdogan’s aides kicking a protester who was being held on the ground by armed police.

And videos yesterday appeared to show Mr Erdogan himself punching a mourner in a shop near the scene of the disaster.


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