Turkey mine disaster: government officials’ response sparks anger, video of Erdogan aide kicking protester surfaces

By Daniel S Levine,

As the death toll from the mine disaster in Soma, Turkey continues to rise, the citizens continue to protest Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government’s response to the incident. A video surfaced showing one of his aides allegedly kicking a protester didn’t help.

Dogan, a private news agency in Turkey, obtained the video, in which an Erdogan adviser, Yusuf Yerkel, is seen kicking a protester already pinned to the ground by security, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In addition, other videos appeared to show Erdogan himself getting involved, swinging his arm in the direction of a protester, although the video couldn’t be verified. Erdogan’s political opposition accused him of violence, nonetheless.

Yerkel did release a statement apologizing for the incident. “I am sorry that I could not maintain my calm despite all the provocations, insults and attacks that I came under that day,” he said.

An official told the Associated Press that it was Yerkel’s “own personnel matter.”

Meanwhile, the death toll from the disaster continues to rise. On Wednesday, it stood at 245, but has since climbed to 283, notes the AP. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has said that 787 miners were trapped by the explosion and 450 were rescued. However, there are still more unaccounted for.

Yildiz explained Thursday that the carbon monoxide levels lowered, which meant that a fire in the conveyor system was getting smaller. That should allow rescue operations to resume.

Erdogan did visit the site on Wednesday, but was met with protests, especially after he called mine disasters “ordinary things.” He is expected to run for the presidency in August.

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