Death toll climbs to 284 at Soma mine as President Gül visits disaster-struck town
President Abdullah Gül is surrounded by rescue workers as he visits the disaster-struck mine in Soma, in the province of Manisa, May 15. AA Photo
Turkey is being confronted by a “huge disaster,” President Abdullah Gül has said after visiting the mine in the western town of Soma where at least 284 workers died following a May 13 explosion that produced a fire that has still not been extinguished.
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said that although the fire was smaller, it was still continuing since the deadly explosion on a power distribution unit three days ago.
“The level of carbon monoxide in the mine has decreased, which might be a sign that the fire is now smaller, although not completely extinguished. If anyone showed negligence, we will not have mercy on him,” Yıldız told journalists on May 15.
Meanwhile, President Gül visited the site of the accident, vowing that measures to prevent similar catastrophes will be taken.
“Unfortunately our loss is great. We have to show a huge solidarity to bind up the wounds,” Gül told journalist May 15, vowing the improvement of the workers’ conditions.
“We have to review all the norms the same way to reduce the risks of such pain to the same level as developed countries. No doubt, everything necessary will be done so as not to suffer such pain ever again,” he said.
“Mr. President, our pain is huge, please help us,” a local shouted while Gül was speaking. Gül also faced protests as he was inspecting the mine, with relatives of miners calling for an end to the use of subcontracted workers.
Extraordinary security measures were taken before Gül’s visit to Soma. Tensions had mounted a day before when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the target of protests.