Deaths stir safety concerns in Turkey
ELAZIĞ - Doğan News Agency
Six workers are killed and seven others are injured when a whirlwind uproot their container in Elazığ, raising fresh concerns about a lack of work safety in Turkey. DHA photoSix workers were killed and seven others were injured April 9 when a whirlwind uprooted their container in Elazığ, raising fresh concerns about a lack of work safety in Turkey following recent job-related fatalities.
The incident occurred when an unexpectedly strong whirlwind formed in the area of the containers, which were placed near a road construction area five kilometers away from the eastern province’s Maden district. Four of the workers died on the scene of the incident, while the others were dragged nearly 100 meters, according to reports.
Elazığ Gov. Muammer Erol said there were 12 people inside the containers when the whirlwind struck. Eight injured workers were taken to hospital, but two of them died en route, bringing the death toll to six, he added.
The governor also visited the injured workers in hospital.
More than 70 house roofs were also demolished in the sudden storm, according to reports.
One of the survivors, Zeki Torun, said a hailstorm hit their village of Dutpınar before the whirlwind formed.
“The hailstones were as big as apples; the whirlwind followed the hail a couple of seconds later. I stepped to get out of the house but the wind ripped the house’s roof off, so I held onto the wall. I would have died if it had continued one more second,” said Torun.
The headman of the village, Selami Gökmen, said he was at the cemetery when the whirlwind struck the village at 6:20 p.m.
“I saw roofs flying. Right after the storm, I returned to the village. There was serious damage,” Gökmen told Anatolia news agency.
Four of the dead workers reportedly started work for a subcontractor firm in charge of the road construction on the day of the incident.
Abdullah Tekin and Çerkez Akyürek’s bodies have been sent to their hometowns in the adjacent province of Diyarbakır while Altan Demirkıra and Metin Bahçeci’s funerals were held in Elazığ.
Two workers were recently killed in an explosion at a shipyard in Istanbul’s Tuzla district, while five workers died in a boat accident on a frozen lake in the eastern province of Erzurum last week.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice President Gürsel Tekin criticized the lack of work safety regulations in Turkey in a press meeting on April 9, saying the high number of recent, fatal work accidents was due to state negligence.
Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chair Ümit Boyner said Turkey should develop healthy and safe work conditions through cooperation among the state, employers and nongovernmental organizations.
Meanwhile, Sermin Balık, a Justice and Development Party (AKP) Elazığ deputy, visited the village after the incident and extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
“The biggest sorrow is for the six deceased people, while the village was also damaged seriously; the consolation for us, however, is that there were no casualties in the village. Whirlwinds are not something [people are] familiar with in Turkey; it is the first time [one has ever struck] Elazığ,” Balık said.
Compiled from Doğan News Agency and Anatolia News Agency stories by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.