Coal miner victims commemorated on 23th year of accident
ZONGULDAK - Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoThe 263 miners who were killed in an accident in Black Sea province of Zonguldak 23 years ago were commemorated on March 3 by families and their colleagues who survived the incident.
An explosion in the Kozlu mine, operated by the state Turkish Coal Institute (TTK), claimed the lives of 263 miners on March 3, 1992, in one of the worst mine disasters in Turkey’s history.
Mustafa Bozacıoğlu, 60, one of the miners who survived the accident, said nobody supported them after the incident and they had to seek their rights on their own.
“First there was a black smoke and then a fire and explosion. We could not see anything due to the dust. May God not let us see such things again,” Bozacıoğlu said.
A minute of silence was held in the mine before the day’s work started on March 3 and verses from the Quran were read for the souls of the victims.
General Mine Workers Union (GMİS) head Şaban Kaptan Eyüp Alabaş criticized the authorities for failing to take action against the subcontractors in mines, despite numerous warnings. The subcontractor system is seen as one of the main problems in the mining sector in Turkey, giving miners few rights and limiting workplace security standards.
“We must protect each other and comply with workplace health and safety rules in order not to have such accidents anymore,” said current TTK General Manager Burhan İnan during a commemoration ceremony in the Kozlu district of Zonguldak, while claiming that it is down to miners to monitor their colleagues.
“Mining is a very dangerous job. This is also stated in the law. Miners should monitor their colleagues,” İnan said.
Turkey does not have a good mining record, with accidents in recent years claiming many lives.
Eighteen miners were killed after they were trapped underground following a flood at a coal mine in Ermenek on Oct. 28, 2014. This was only six months after 301 miners died at a mine in Soma in the Aegean region on May 13, 2014, in the worst ever industrial accident in Turkish history.