Testimonies reveal mining disaster in Central Anatolia was no surprise
KARAMAN – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoTestimonies inside the indictment regarding the mining accident in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman’s Ermenek district that left 18 workers dead last year have revealed that the disaster was waiting to happen.
The 168-page-long indictment, which was waiting to be accepted by the court and contained the testimonies of a total of 45 witnesses, 25 of which worked in the mine, has put forth the illegalities and irregularities at the mine before the accident took place. If the court accepts the indictment, 16 suspects, of which three are under arrest, will be tried.
Eighteen miners were killed after they were trapped underground following a flood at the coal mine on Oct. 28, 2014.
Mustafa Elibol, a miner who avoided death in the disaster, said in his testimony that the engineers would close some of the galleries when they learned when inspectors were coming and also sent some of the workers on unpaid leave to make the number of workers inside the gallery appear smaller.
“They learned that there would be inspections in May and June. Me and my team blocked the entrance of [a gallery out of two galleries] by nailing wood and plastering it over with mud. Once the inspection was over I opened this place on the orders of the chief,” said Elibol. “We used to continue working and extract coal from behind the place I had blocked.”
Abdullah Deveci, who worked the shift before the accident, said he could not fortify the gallery, as the coal was humid and it slipped on its own. He said he left the mine before a fortification could be completed because his shift had ended.
“Later [after my shift when I was home], I heard the water flooding incident,” said Deveci.
An expert report on the accident had said the water that caused the flood inside the mine was not from an underground source, but rather was waste water from older coal production galleries near the site.
Drilling was being conducted only three meters from the waste water, rather than at the required 25 meters, it said, adding the miners did not know what to do during the accident as no documents were found on training for workers.
The Ermenek disaster came just six months after 301 miners died at a mine in Soma in the Aegean region on May 13, 2014, in the worst industrial accident in Turkish history.