Death toll at Soma mine hits 292, energy minister says 'thank God we're not embarrassed'
'I believe that this will be concluded with a death toll of 299-300-302 of our worker brothers,' Yıldız told journalists May 16.Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said he hopes that the death toll in Turkey's worst mining disaster will remain at "299 or 300," adding that the number may vary a little due to the fact that the accident occurred during shift change.
"Thank God, we're not embarrassed," he added, after announcing that eight more bodies were pulled out of the Soma mine late May 16.
“I say this number based on families’ testimonies and the documents provided by the company. We saw that there were workers who entered back into the mine during the shift change. There are two or three workers that we are not certain about. But at least we have announced the upmost number. We hope that the number will be under that. I believe that this will be concluded with a death toll of 299-300-302 of our worker brothers,” Yıldız told journalists early on May 16.
Yıldız has also slammed reports that said there were hundreds still trapped in the mine.
“Some have been very hungrily saying that they were hundreds of people still trapped. I watch them with shame,” Yıldız said.
In the statement on early May 16, Yıldız said a fire that started after an explosion at a power distribution unit May 13 is still continuing despite having been mostly extinguished. “There are works to fortify it at the same time. They are fortifying the roofs to bring back workers who have been trapped further away,” Yıldız said.
At midnight, Yıldız spoke to journalists for the second time in the day to announce that eight more bodies were pulled out of the mine. "We had told that we would in a significantly more comfortable position after the operation to control the fire inside the mine is done. Thank God, we're not embarrassed," Yıldız said, stressing that the exact number of miners who are still trapped will be announced on May 17, four days after the accident happened in the mine.
Turkey declared three days of national mourning on May 14 for the worst mining disaster in the country’s history.