Owner of flooded mine in Karaman surrenders to prosecutor’s office

Owner of flooded mine in Karaman surrenders to prosecutor’s office

Owner of flooded mine in Karaman surrenders to prosecutor’s office

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız.

Saffet Uyar, the owner of a coal mine in Karaman in which 18 miners went missing following an underground flood on Oct. 28, surrendered to the public prosecutor’s office early on Nov. 9.

Has Şekerler Mining, which is owned by Uyar and operates the mine in Karaman’s Ermenek district, denied responsibility for the accident in a statement issued two days after the incident, assuring that all necessary safety measures had been taken. The bodies of two miners were recovered on Nov. 6.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Nov. 8 that that the initial suspicions about the cause of the accident have been confirmed, as initial probes suggested that the mine had approached an old mine’s water-filled galleries by as few as six or seven meters.

“This is a very clear mistake by the operators of the mine ... They ignored workers’ warnings, claiming that the old mine was still 50-60 meters away,” Yıldız added, stressing that authorities would share the details after the administrative investigation was concluded.

“The chief prosecutor informed us that one of the detained suspects is the owner of the mine. Two others are his partners. The other five are technical personnel,” Yıldız told reporters on Nov. 8 in Ermenek.

Turkish authorities, who initially announced that eight people were detained, later said that one person was still being sought.

The 18 miners were trapped while having lunch deep inside the coal mine on Oct. 28 by tons of water.  The bodies of 30-year-old Kerim Haznedar and 23-year-old İsa Gözbaşı were only retrieved after 11 days of round-the-clock efforts to remove the water and sludge that inundated the workers.

Haznedar and Gözbaşı were laid to rest in Karaman on Nov. 8, while efforts continued to find their 16 colleagues.

Turkey’s largest ever industrial disaster killed 301 miners in the western town of Soma on May 13.