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LOCAL > The sad story of father and son miners on same work shift

Okan Konuralp HÜRRİYET / MANİSA

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Fatih Akvaş, who escaped the Soma mining disaster only because he was ill at home, is overcome by grief at the funeral for his father and brother. (Rıza ÖZEL / Hürriyet)

Fatih Akvaş, who escaped the Soma mining disaster only because he was ill at home, is overcome by grief at the funeral for his father and brother. (Rıza ÖZEL / Hürriyet)

The sad story of a father and his son has added to the grief of the May 13 mine disaster that claimed at least 284 lives.

Father Hüseyin Avkaş, 43, had retired from mining, but in order to offer his family a better life he carried on working at the Eynes Spate mine in Soma, just like many others. He was a team leader. As miners say, “You feel safe if you’re in the team of a good leader who can also instruct well.”

Avkaş moved to Soma in 1990 from the Black Sea province of Ordu. Ordu is famous for raising good miners, so he easily found a job in Soma.

His son Fatih was first to join him, while the younger Ferhat also started working at the mine when he was 19.

It is an unwritten law that miners from the same family should not work the same shift, but this did not work for the Akvaş family, just like many others. The three mining men did not want to bother Melek, the mother, three times a day with preparations for the day’s shift.

On the day of the accident, Hüseyin and Ferhat left the house to mine for coal. Fatih stayed home as he was ill.

Hüseyin Avkaş was the leader of 60 men, including his son Ferhat, who was willing to learn the details of the profession from his own father. He had been a miner for less than a year.

Hüseyin left the team for one moment to make a telephone report, as Ferhat and colleagues were hundreds of meters below the surface. Then came a sudden, unexpected flame and carbon monoxide engulfed the mine.

Hüseyin realized how serious the case was, but he did not hesitate for a second to go down the mine and retrieve his son.

As colleagues close to the mouth of the mine were escaping, he ran in the opposite direction to save his son and their beloved friends. We do not know what happened then. No one knows how long their struggle went on or what their final words were. But a rescuer gives us a clue. “They were hugging each other when we found them dead,” he said.

Now they rest side by side at Soma’s Kırkağaç Cemetery.

Melek, Fatih, who escaped death only by chance, and little brother Ferdi are now suffering unparalleled grief.

May/16/2014

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