Turkey: Fire delays rescue work as death toll in mine disaster hits 299

May 17, 2014 | By | Reply More

May 17, – The death toll in the Turkish mine explosion rose to 299, with three more workers still believed trapped in the depths of the Soma mine, Turkey’s energy minister said Saturday in a televised statement.

hromedia Turkey Fire delays rescue work as death toll in mine disaster hits 299 eu news1Further complicating the efforts to find the workers, a new fire broke out in a separate part of the mine Saturday when firefighters and rescue teams tried to put out the initial fire that caused most of the deaths, officials said.

The new blaze along with methane gas leaks in several sections of the coal mine posed additional challenges to the rescue operation, Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s energy minister, said Saturday.

“It is a localized fire, but it is important and we have to take note of it,” Mr. Yildiz said. “Naturally until it is brought under control we can’t do anything” to retrieve the three workers.

Fifteen bodies were removed from the mine late Friday night. But the authorities were unable to identify the deceased miners because they were so badly burned, and their remains were handed over to DNA experts to determine their identity.

“There are ones that required DNA tests,” Mr. Yildiz said.

The disaster posed a new challenge to the government of the Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan has recently stumbled from one political crisis to the next, often deepening public outrage with highhanded remarks and an authoritarian determination. That was the case again in Soma, even while the dead were being buried and bodies were still being recovered.

Mourners wanted answers when the prime minister visited. Instead, some said, they got defiance.

Mr. Erdogan traveled to Soma on Wednesday and appeared defensive from the start. He suggested that mining disasters were commonplace, even in developed countries, and recited a list of accidents that occurred in Britain in the 1800s — an awkward comparison for a leader who has projected an image of Turkey as a modern democracy.

“He inflamed the crowd,” said Ozcan, a hotel worker who gave only his first name. When Mr. Erdogan’s entourage faced angry hecklers in the town center, one of his aides was photographed kicking a protester who was on the ground. Seeking refuge from the crowds, the prime minister was hustled by his security team into a supermarket, where a video camera appeared to show him threatening an angry resident.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: European Crises

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