Activity begins at disaster-struck Soma mine with maintenance works
Banu Şen MANİSAWorkers began cleaning the disaster-struck mine in the western town of Soma on Sept. 11, only two days after officials gave the green light to the operator company to start production at a nearby site.
A team of around 50 people entered the galleries of the Eynez mine, where 301 were killed in the worst mining accident in Turkey's history on May 13, launching maintenance works to clear the site and thus potentially enable operations to restart.
Soma District Governor Bahattin Atçı hinted Sept. 9 that production could start once again at the deadly mine if the shortcomings were fixed.
The workers said they were removing the damaged equipment left inside following the accident. Miners who were in the team stated that it was very difficult emotionally to go into the mines after losing 301 colleagues.
The mine was handed over to the operating company one-and-a-half months ago after the end of the investigation at the site. Apart from the owner Alp Gürkan, high-ranking managers of Soma Coal Mining were arrested following the accident pending trial, but the company was controversially allowed to start operations at the nearby Işıklar site after a positive inspection report.
A third mine in Soma owned by the company may also open soon, following the conclusion of the inspection next week, officials have said.
Energy Minister Taner Yılmaz had announced two months ago that the mines could be re-opened “if the conditions were met,” leading to criticisms over the fact that the trial into the disaster is not set to start before November.