Turkey mine disaster: death toll rises past 200, riots break out

By Daniel S Levine,

The death toll in the Turkey mining disaster has risen well past 200 and citizens in the area are growing angry. A riot broke out in the town where the mine is located as the true scale of one of the worst mining disasters in world history is still unknown.

The disaster was reportedly sparked by an electrical fire on Tuesday. It happened a mile underground and officials had to pump down oxygen to help any survivors breathe.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday that the death toll is now at 245 miners, reports The Wall Street Journal. Many of them were killed by carbon-monoxide poisoning.

The company that runs the coal mine is Soma Komur Isletmeleri AS, located in Soma, in the Manisa province. Yildiz said that there were 787 miners in total in the mine, with 450 rescued.

Riots broke out in the area when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived. USA Today reports that he was greeted with boos when he called mining disasters “usual things.” Many yelled “murderer” and “thief” at him.

“Our hope is that, God willing, they will be brought out,” Erdogan said of the miners still underground. “That is what we are waiting for.”

According to the Associated Press, local reports have said that hundreds are protesting in Istanbul and the Turkish capital Ankara. Erdogan had faced protests last year and is expected to run for president in August.

To answer the lack of trust of the government, Erdogan vowed that the disaster would be investigated to the “smallest detail” and “no negligence will be ignored.”

The Turkish government has faced criticism over a shoddy public safety record. This is just the latest mining disaster in the country and the worst since a 1992 gas explosion killed 263 in Zonguldak.

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