Witnesses’ accounts reveal causes of Soma mine tragedy

Witnesses’ accounts reveal causes of Soma mine tragedy

Witnesses’ accounts reveal causes of Soma mine tragedy

Workers employed at mines in Soma have been protesting for the improvement of their working conditions since the deadly accident on May 13. DHA Photo

Witness accounts of the tragic accident in a coal mine May 13, which resulted in the deaths of 301 miners, revealed countless accounts of negligence and malpractice, as well as various causes of the accident.

Prosecutors focused on 12 significant questions and almost every miner who survived the country’s worst mining tragedy to date has given similar answers that revealed the unsecure workplace in the Soma district of the western province of Manisa.    

Miners told the prosecutors they had to walk while entering and leaving the mine, despite conveyor belts present in the mine. All of the coal was carried to the surface using the conveyor belts to hasten the process, while the miners exited on foot.

They said they felt tired and had headaches a few days before the accident, which might be an indication of the leaked carbon monoxide gas inside the mine ahead of the tragic explosion.
The miners also said officials from Soma Holding, the company which operates the mine, were informed about inspections a week before the inspectors’ visit and prepared the mine accordingly ahead of these visits.

 The miners also told the prosecutors the emergency oxygen masks they carried with them were checked once during all of the years they had worked there. They said there were no fire detectors in the mine.

Small fires erupted due to heat in coal in Soma

The coal in the mine overheated on several occasions and small fires erupted due to this heat, but their superiors avoided these incidents and rather increased the pressure on the workers to remove more coal from the mine every day.

Prosecutors’ have listened to 750 witnesses and workers injured from the accident so far. The prosecutors have recorded the testimonies on camera to serve as evidence during the trials.

Meanwhile, a number of the workers employed at three separate mines owned by Soma Holding in Soma have been holding a sit-in protest since June 16, holding placards and demanding their salaries be paid. The three mines operated by Soma Holding employs approximately 6,000 people in the district and have been closed since the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) has frozen all assets belonging to Alp Gürkan, the businessman who owns the company operating the mine in Soma.