Soma mine disaster

From Global Energy Monitor

On 13 May 2014, an explosion at a coal mine in Soma, Manisa, Turkey, caused an underground mine fire, which burned until 15 May.[1][2] In total, 301 people were killed in what was the worst mine disaster in Turkey's history. The mine, operated by coal producer Soma Kömür İşletmeleri A.Ş., suffered an explosion, the cause of which is still under investigation.[3][4] The fire occurred at the mine's shift change, and 787 workers were underground at the time of the explosion. After the final bodies were pulled from the mine on May 17, 2014, four days after the fire, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız confirmed the number of dead was 301.[5] Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) announced the names of 301 workers who died in the mine disaster[6] and 486 people who survived[7][8] but some politicians claimed that the number of dead is more than 340.[9][10][11]

Miners protested against dangerous mining conditions in late 2013 and the demand by the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party, to investigate the mine's safety was rejected in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey with votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party only weeks before the disaster.[12][13]


Mining accidents are common in Turkey, which has poor mine-safety conditions. According to a report issued in 2010 by the Turkish Economy Policies Research Foundation (TEPAV), in 2008, deaths per 1 million tons of coal mined were 7.22 in Turkey (the highest figure in the world), 5 times the rate in China (1.27) and 361 times the rate in the US (0.02).[14] Official statistics record that more than 3,000 coal miners died in mining accidents from 1941 to April 2014. 78 miners were killed in accidents in 2012, and 95 died in 2013. Prior to the Soma disaster, the deadliest accident in recent Turkish mining history was an explosion which killed 263 people in 1992.[15]

The mine, formerly a state-owned company, had been privatized in 2005. In 2012 Alp Gürkan, CEO of Soma Holding, indicated that since privatization the cost of producing coal had decreased from about $140 to $24 per ton.[16]

In November 2013 hundreds of coal miners protested against working conditions by barricading themselves in a mine in Zonguldak.[12]

On 29 April 2014, the Republican People’s Party's demand for a parliamentary investigation regarding the safety in Soma mines was rejected by the Grand National Assembly.[13][17][18]

Explosion and fire

The fire was started by an explosion that occurred 2km below the surface; the explosion caused the mine's elevator to stop working.[19] The explosion killed 301 workers, injured another 80, and trapped nearly 600 workers in the mine, causing most of the victims to die of carbon monoxide poisoning.[20] There were 787 miners underground at the time of the explosion;[21] however, because the explosion took place close to shift change, the exact number of employees underground at the time was initially uncertain.[22] Hürriyet first declared a young-looking mine worker among the dead to be 15 years old and working illegally,[23] though this claim has been dismissed by the person's family.[24][25]

Rescue effort

Rescue crews arrived at the mine soon after the explosion and provided fresh air to the mine workings in an effort to keep those workers still trapped underground alive. Four mine rescue teams were deployed underground to look for trapped miners;[12] however thick smoke initially hindered progress in the operations to rescue more workers from the mine.[26]

See also


  1. "Turkish mine disaster: Unions call protest strike". BBC News. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  2. Constanze Letsch. "Turkey: miners and mourners scorn government that 'laughs at our pain'". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  3. "Turkey mine disaster: firm claims 'unprecedented' fire". 15 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  4. "Four people arrested over Turkey mine disaster". 18 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. "Turkish mine disaster town under lockdown as death toll rises to 301". Reuters. Retrieved 18 May 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  6. "301 İşçimizin Cenazesi Ailelerine Teslim Edildi". AFAD. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  7. "Kurtulan madencilerin isimleri açıklandı". ntvmsnbc. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  8. "Elim Kazadan Sağ Kurtulanlar". AFAD. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  9. "Destici: Soma'da ölen madenci sayısı 302 değil 344". Bugün. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  10. "Soma'da ölü sayısı en az 350". Sözcü. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  11. "Soma'dan sıcak bilgiler". Oda TV. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Ensor, Josy (13 May 2014). "Hundreds of miners trapped after explosion in Turkish coal mine". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Saul, Heather (14 May 2014). "Turkey coal mine explosion: Protests erupt in Soma after PM claims 'explosions like these happen all the time'". The Independent. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  14. "Turkey world leader in coal mining deaths". Today's Zaman. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  15. Peker, Emre (14 May 2014). "Turkey Coal Mine Explosion Kills More Than 200". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  16. "Katastrophe im Spar-Bergwerk löst Wut auf Betreiber aus" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  17. Murat Yetkin (14 May 2014). "Analysis: Gov't ignored warnings, miners paid the bill with their lives". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  18. "Grim news underground". The Economist. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  19. "Over 17 killed and 200 trapped in Turkish coal mine explosion". IANS. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  20. "Turkey orders 3 day mourning for Soma mine disaster victims". IANS. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  21. Thornhill, Ted (15 May 2014). "Mass funerals for the but did you die dead of the Turkey mining disaster as fury mounts at Prime Minister's aide who kicked mourner". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  22. Humeyra, Pamuk; Coskun, Orhan (13 May 2014). "UPDATE 3-Turkish coal mine explosion kills 17, over 200 trapped inside". Reuters. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  23. "Çocuk işçiler yönetmelikle geldi". Hürriyet. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  24. "Bakan'dan 'Soma'da çocuk işçi çalıştırılıyor' iddiasına yanıt". Habertürk. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  25. "Turkey mine death toll at 245, says energy minister". 15 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  26. "Turkey coalmine collapse in Manisa kills at least 151 and traps hundreds underground". ABC News. Retrieved 14 May 2014.

Wikipedia also has an article on Soma mine disaster. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.