Turkey detains mine staff over disaster

Source – Aljazeera

 

Turkish police are investigating 24 people, including mining company executives and personnel, as part of the probe into the Soma mining disaster, local media has reported.The arrests on Sunday came after the government promised a thorough investigation into the deaths of 301 miners last week. According to the private Dogan news agency, prosecutors are questioning five of those being held.

Police also set up checkpoints and arrested dozens of people in Soma town on Sunday as officers enforced a ban on protests following clashes on Friday.

Eight lawyers from the Contemporary Jurists Association, including its leader, were arrested and handcuffed on suspicion that they were there to take part in more protests, Dogan reported.

A total of 36 people were arrested and taken to a sports centre in the town where they chanted: “The pressure cannot intimidate us”, the agency said. The number of arrests could not be confirmed by Al Jazeera.

On Saturday, Nihat Zeybekci, the economy minister, said the government would “do everything in our hands” to “resolve the grievances” of those in Soma.

Families and unions have criticised the government’s handling of the disaster, and said the private firm which runs the coal mine, Soma Holding, did nothing to enforce safety standards.

Critics say that the privatisation of previously state-controlled mines had turned them over to politically connected businessmen who have skimped on safety to maximise profit.

Managers held a fractious news conference on Friday where they said an unexplained build-up of heat was thought to have led part of the mine to collapse, fanning a blaze which spread rapidly more than 2km under the surface.

A preliminary expert report, obtained by the Milliyet newspaper, pointed to several safety violations in the mine, including a shortage of carbon monoxide detectors and ceilings made of wood instead of metal.

The ruling AK Party said the formerly state-run mine at Soma, 480km southwest of Istanbul, had been inspected 11 times over the past five years. It denied any suggestion of loopholes in mining safety regulations.

 

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