December 19, 2014
Mass funerals and anger after Turkish mine disaster
A mass funeral was held today for the victims of Turkey's worst mining accident, as anger mounts. At least 282 people were confirmed dead and hopes are fading of pulling out alive the 100 or so still thought to be inside the mine.
Loudspeakers broadcast the names of the dead and excavators dug mass graves in the western town of Soma mining town in the Manisa province, while protesters gathered in major cities as grief turned to anger following the country's deadliest industrial disaster.
Turkey's four biggest unions will hold a one-day protest strike, furious at what they see as a sharp deterioration in working conditions since formerly state-run mines including the one in Soma were leased to private firms.
Furious residents heckled Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and jostled his entourage yesterday as he toured the town, angry at what they see as the government's cosiness with mining tycoons, its failure to ensure safety and a lack of information on the rescue effort.
Erdogan, who announced three days of national mourning from Tuesday, expressed regret for the disaster but said such accidents were not uncommon, and turned defensive when asked if sufficient precautions had been in place.
Rescuers were still trying to reach parts of the coal mine almost 48 hours after fire knocked out power and shut down the ventilation shafts and elevators, trapping hundreds underground.