Turkey commemorates the first anniversary of its deadliest mining accident in Soma

Turkey commemorates the first anniversary of its deadliest mining accident in Soma

MANİSA – Doğan News Agency
Turkey commemorates the first anniversary of its deadliest mining accident in Soma

AP Photo

The district of Soma will commemorate the first anniversary of Turkey’s deadliest mining accident, in which 301 miners were killed, in a modest way on May 13. 

The Manisa Metropolitan Municipality together with the district governorship and the Maden-İş Union will organize separate commemoration events in the Aegean district of Soma. 

The first event will be held at the monument grave site that is being constructed for the Soma mining victims, though the monument has not yet been completed. Excerpts from the Quran will be read aloud at the grave site, which is an Islamic tradition done to honor the deceased and is sent to the deceased’s soul. Food will also be distributed to the people at the grave site. 

The second commemoration ceremony will be held by the Maden-İş Union at a central square in Soma, where the Quran will again be read aloud throughout the day. 

The accident began with a fire about 2,000 meters from the mine entrance, at a depth of 150 meters, in a coal mine in the Soma district of the western province of Manisa on May 13, 2014. The Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) initially announced a power distribution unit was the cause of the fire, but the company denied it on May 16, 2014.

The accident claimed 301 lives, though more than 780 miners were inside the mine when the fire erupted during a shift change. Three days of official mourning were declared on May 14, 2014, by the government once the extremity of the disaster was realized. 

Bahattin Atçı, Soma’s district governor, said an incident that left deep sorrow in the citizens of Turkey had been lived but serious steps had been taken to meet the needs of the families that were left behind. 

“Houses are being built, the pension processes have been done, each family has been given a staff place [in the state to be employed], families have been put on salary,” said Atçı, adding he wished the incident was a lesson for the entire sector. 

Maden-İş Union Aegean region dead Recep Satır said the miners working in the two mines of the Soma Coal Mine Company were given a day off for the anniversary. 

A total of 45 suspects are on trial over the tragedy, with eight former managers from the Soma Coal Mine Company that ran the mine accused of “killing with probable criminal intent.” 

Can Gürkan, the chief executive of the Soma Kömür mining company, general manager Ramazan Doğru and Operating Manager Akın Çelik are among the arrested suspects of the case. 

The trial into the accident started only a month ago on April 13, during which suspects in the case denied responsibility for the accident which precipitated anger among the families of the 301 victims.

Suspects also pointed the finger at one chief engineer, Mehmet Efe, who died in the accident, though his father, Resul Efe, said his son was being made into a “scapegoat.”

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and the Turkish Medical Association announced that a demonstration for the Soma anniversary would be held on May 16.