At least five dead, 11 trapped in copper mine in southeast Turkey
AA photoThe bodies of five workers were found and an extensive search to find 11 others was ongoing after a massive landslide occurred at a copper mine in the Şirvan district of the southeastern province of Siirt late on Nov. 17.
A team of 90 rescue workers was working to find the 11 miners trapped underground at the large field owned by the private company Park Elektrik A.Ş., following heavy rain in the region.
CNN Türk reported that one of the trapped workers, identified as Halil Başer, had called one of his relatives through a video call at around 13.00 while he was waiting to be rescued under the wreckage. Başer reportedly made the call during which only dark background of the spot where he was trapped was visible, and minutes later the call was dropped.
Rescue work was carried out by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) teams dispatched to the area from Siirt, Batman Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Van and Erzurum provinces, as well as rescue teams from the Health Ministry, the Turkish Red Crescent, the gendarmerie forces and the mining company.
Two helicopters and a plane were also provided by the Turkish Armed Forces, while drones were used to guide the operation.
AFAD Deputy Chair Mehmet Halis Bilden, speaking at the scene, told reporters that 18 vehicles and three rescue dogs were being used to find the places where workers might be trapped.
AFAD also noted that it had dispatched a “mobile coordination center” to the scene to coordinate the rescue work, and all corresponding ministries had contributed to the operations.
The Energy Ministry was tasked to lighten the area, the Communication Ministry was tasked to set up a wireless tower, the Interior Ministry was tasked to provide general security, and the Family and Social Policies Ministry was mobilized to provide psycho-social support to survivors and the families of the workers.
Park Elektrik A.Ş. issued a statement after the disaster, blaming heavy rains for the landslide and saying that mining work at the field had been temporarily suspended.
“At our company’s Madenköy copper mine field in the Şirvan district of Siirt, a landslide occurred due to heavy rains. Work at the crisis desk set up after the incident is ongoing. Taking into consideration the risk of another landslide in the area, production at the Madenköy copper field has been suspended. Further developments will be shared with the public,” said the statement.
Park Elektrik A.Ş. is a member of Ciner Group of companies. The Ciner Group is one of the largest business groups in Turkey, with investments including mining, energy, tourism and media.
Siirt Governor Mustafa Tutulmaz told reporters that the rescue teams arrived the scene at 12 a.m. but could not carry out their activities until early morning due to the risks of night operations. Tutulmaz said 1 million cubic meters of soil was moved during the landslide.
He also said the primary reason for the disaster was “heavy rain,” while adding that prosecutors had also launched investigations to find out whether the slide was the result of any negligence.
The names of the workers operating trucks and heavy vehicles at the mine were revealed as Savaş Kızılkan, Kerem Arat, Murat Ant, İbrahim Kılınç, Kasim Tari, Şefik Tuncer, Sedat Bulut, Abdurrahman Sönmezsoy, Reşit Can, Halil Başer, Mahmut Batumak, Bedrettin Çaylı, Nusret Beyazalma, Yavuz Yıldız, İsmail Tekin and Abdulbaki Aydın.
Of these names, the four identified as the victims were Murat Ant, Reşit Can, Savaş Kızılkan, and Bedrettin Çaylı.