THE SUMMARY OF THE DAY ON DISASTER
The government and the operator of the mine in which about 300 workers died this week both denied on Friday claims of negligence in the accident in a manner which fell short of accusing the workers for the accident.
“There are absolutely no loopholes in the country’s mining safety regulations,” Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said on Friday, shortly after the owner of Soma Holding, which operates the mine, told reporters he is not legally obliged to provide an emergency shelter inside the mines.
Turkey, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, is one of the only three countries in the world where a shelter is not legally required.
“This mine has been thoroughly inspected 11 times since 2009,” said Çelik, who claimed it is time to “draw lessons” from the disaster and “rectify our mistakes,” not “to look for a scapegoat.”
Soma Holding Chairman Alp Gürkan also denied any negligence. After admitting that there were no emergency shelters inside the mine at the time of the disaster, Gürkan told journalists as mine owner he is not legally obliged to provide shelters.
Gürkan had said in an interview published by the Hürriyet daily two years ago that his company had reduced the costs of coal extraction from $130 dollars per ton to $23.80 after leasing the mine in 2005 from the Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKİ).
Soma Holding’s plant manager Akın Çelik also informed journalists, “It wouldn’t have mattered if there had been a shelter.” He also asked the media if they would have run toward the exit or down to seek refuge in a shelter. “I would have run up and tried to get out,” he said, indirectly claiming that the trapped miners had caused their own deaths.
In fact, the Manisa Chief Public Prosecutor had made this point hours after the accident on Tuesday. Prosecutor Durdu Kavak told journalists in the initial aftermath of the accident that whoever was responsible for the accident were already dead.
Kavak told journalists on Tuesday in initial remarks that no one had been detained and the superiors who should have been questioned had also died along with the workers.
“We have been informed that the incident occurred due to a power unit explosion. This is what we have been told but the exact cause will come out at the end of the investigation. There are no detentions as of yet. The responsible superiors who would normally be summoned to testify are also dead together with the others.”