Two separate fires erupted at Soma mine before disaster, neither registered
İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
Footage from 16 security cameras dated between April 27 and May 18 was examined by criminal experts from the Ankara Police Department.Examination of the security camera footage from the Soma mine has revealed that two separate fires erupted days before Turkey’s deadliest ever industrial accident, which claimed the lives of 301 miners in May.
Footage from 16 security cameras dated between April 27 and May 18 was examined by criminal experts from the Ankara Police Department after all the computers of the Soma Coal company storing the records were seized, as part of the investigation into the disaster.
According to the examination, a fire broke out at the mine on May 11 at around 07.25 a.m., lasting 16 hours. Another fire erupted on May 12, only one day before the day of the disaster, at around 06.00 a.m. Intense smoke can be seen in the security camera footage, while some workers reportedly fainted due to the fire. Production continued at the mine during both fires, the footage also reveals.
Neither of the two fires was registered in the record books of the facility.
The footage also appears to confirm the testimonies of a number of the workers rescued from the May 13 disaster. Many said temperatures had increased in the mine in the days before the accident and added that the coal gathered from the mine was too hot.
The criminal report also includes footage from the day of the disaster, with smoke seen rapidly spreading in the mine. The workers are seen in the footage trying to reach the exits of the mine and carrying colleagues who had fainted due to the smoke.
The report, prepared by four experts, has been sent to the Soma Public Prosecutors’ Office.
Last week, it was revealed that most of the data indicating an increased risk of accident were not recorded in the registers of every incident at the facility, prompting accusations of “forgery.”
An initial expert report prepared in the wake of the disaster, based on the digital information collected by the sensors, showed that carbon monoxide levels at the mine regularly passed beyond the maximum limits allowed, but no mention of those occurrences was made in the record books. Instead, all data in the registers were at their normal value and more routine incidents were recorded, such as the checking of fans in the mine.
The Soma accident was the largest mining disaster in the country’s history, triggering an investigation into the operating company, whose officials deny any wrongdoing. The company’s chairman, Can Gürkan, and general manager, Ramazan Doğru, are still under arrest along with several other officials while the owner, Alp Gürkan, is being investigated on charges of fraud.