Turkey’s leaders cancel visits abroad upon coal mine tragedy
Flags across the country have been lowered in mourning for the workers killed in the disaster.Top leaders of the country have cancelled their scheduled visits abroad shortly after an explosion and fire at a coal mine.
The tragedy occurred in western Turkey and killed at least 282 workers on May 13, as more than 200 miners were still trapped underground as of May 14.
President Abdullah Gül cancelled an almost week-long visit to China that was supposed to begin May 15. After holding bilateral talks in the capital city of Beijing, Gül was scheduled to proceed to Shanghai in order participate in the 4th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit on May 20-21.
The visit is cancelled due to the “deplorable disaster,” which took place in the town of Soma town in Manisa, the president’s press office said in a written statement, while noting that Gül will travel to Soma on May 15.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 13 had already postponed a one-day trip to Albania that was originally planned to take place on May 14. Erdoğan was set to travel to Soma on that day instead.
Due to the tragedy, parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek cancelled a visit to the United States that was to take place through May 16-22, during which he was to attend Turkish Day Parade and related activities in New York.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, also postponed a scheduled visit abroad, which was supposed to start May 15.
Kılıçdaroğlu was originally going to travel to London at the invitation of Oxford University’s historic debating society.
A meeting of the Central Executive Board (MYK) of the CHP that was to be chaired by Kılıçdaroğlu on May 14 was also cancelled.
Speaking to reporters ahead of departing for Soma on May 14, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would gather with students at the debating club on another occasion.