BBC News – Turkey mine disaster: 18 arrested over Soma deaths

People mourn their relatives at the cemetery where some of the 301 people killed in the Soma disaster were buried, on May 18, 2014The explosion at the Soma mine last Tuesday caused Turkey’s worst mining disaster

Police investigating the coal mine disaster in western Turkey have arrested 18 people, including mining company executives, Turkish media say.

The rescue operation at the mine, in the town of Soma, ended on Saturday after the bodies of the last two workers were recovered.

The final death toll is 301, making it Turkey’s worst mining disaster.

Protests against the government and mining company have broken out since Tuesday’s disaster.

Those detained on Sunday included Ramazan Dogru, general manager of the mine, and its operations manager Akin Celik, Turkey’s Dogan news agency said.

Some of those arrested are being questioned at a courthouse in Soma, local media say.

Plain clothes police detain a protester during a demonstration to blame the ruling AK Party government for the mining disaster in western Turkey, in Istanbul May 17, 2014Anti-government demonstrations have broken out in several cities since the disaster

Tuesday’s disaster occurred when an explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine’s tunnels while 787 miners were underground.

Soma Holding insists it was not caused by negligence. A representative said an unexplained build-up of heat appeared to have caused the collapse.

On Saturday, hundreds of people marched through the western city of Izmir and there were protests in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

In Soma local authorities have banned demonstrations. Police have set up checkpoints and detaining dozens of people on Saturday.

The ban followed clashes there on Friday, when riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon when a protest briefly turned violent.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for appearing insensitive in his reaction to the disaster.

Both Mr Erdogan and his aide Yusuf Yerkel have come under pressure after photos appearing to show them assaulting protesters were published in Turkish media.

Plan of mine
Map: Turkey mine disaster

18 May 2014 | 2:05 pm – Source: bbc.co.uk
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