Initial report shows mistakes in Soma mine disaster rescue

Initial report shows mistakes in Soma mine disaster rescue

Fevzi Kızılkoyun / Turan Yılmaz HÜRRİYET / ANKARA
Initial report shows mistakes in Soma mine disaster rescue

The scene inside a Soma coal mine is seen in this picture that was taken by an expert team that prepared the report about the May accident. A total of 301 miners were killed in the accident mainly due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

An initial expert report on the Soma mine disaster obtained by daily Hürriyet has questioned the rescue operation carried out after hundreds of workers remained trapped in the galleries after the fire started to spread inside the mine.

The report said footage and pictures inside the mine where 301 workers perished following the accident on May 13 may suggest the rescue operation was not conducted appropriately.

“It was described in the first days [after the disaster] that pumping oxygen and water during the operation was a mistake. Images showing that some of the miners were burned and boiled are likely to validate [those claims],” the report said.

Inspection at the mine and the preparation of the report lagged after the fire inside the galleries continued for days and the interior of the facility presented a high risk for the experts to carry their work. The final report is expected to be completed in 20 days and submitted to the court. After the finalization of the expert report, the trial may be set to begin next November, according to officials.

The head of the Manisa Bar Association, Zeynel Balkız, said there were still areas inside the galleries awaiting the experts’ inspection.

“At the moment, they were only able to go where the mine collapsed some 1,400 meters inside. But the area has a surface of 4,500-squaremeters. There are many places that haven’t been inspected yet. They will descend there as well,” Balkız said.

Pictures and footage was provided by police’s crime units, who shot them for the identification of the bodies.

Meanwhile, a new regulation on mines will make it compulsory for mines in Turkey to have “oxygen mask stations” at every 500 meters for the workers to renew their masks in times of accidents, according to the initial expert report.

The stations where oxygen masks will be stored will be located at 500-meter-intervals in the main gallery and 300-meter-intervals in the byroads to the main gallery, according to the new regulation. These mask stations will allow the workers to renew their masks quickly in times of accidents, Labor and Social Security Ministry Faruk Çelik said.

The regulation was prepared by the Labor and Social Security Ministry and was sent to the Prime Ministry for approval on July 15.

Çelik also said they have discussed the necessity of safe rooms in the mines in the regulation.

“We have prepared a new regulation that will allow miners to walk out of the mines safely and without positioning in times of carbon monoxide leaks and explosions in the mines. They will be able to reach health rooms easily and take their new masks to allow them to exit the mines. We have taken into account world examples and added oxygen change stations to save the individuals. This is significant for the coal mines, but for the other types of mines, safe rooms might be included into the regulation,” said Çelik during the discussion about the new regulation.