Reports indicate up to 24 officials have been detained following the Turkey mining disaster on May 13, which led to the deaths of 301 individuals after an explosion at a coal mine located in Soma, a district of Manisa province in western Turkey. The general manager of the mine, Ramazan Dogru, and Akin Celik, the mine’s operations manager, were among those detained.
The mine explosion led to protests across the country, while denials of negligence made by Celik and comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have only intensified the anger over the tragedy. The mine collapse was caused by an explosion and preliminary reports indicate smoldering coal may have been responsible for the roof’s collapse, reports Associated Press, citing the Milliyet newspaper.
Manisa Governor Abdurrahman Savaş said in a statement, “Nineteen people have been detained as suspects. The interrogation of five of the suspects is still ongoing,” reports the Hurriyet.
The operators of the mine, Soma Holding, deny that negligence caused the mine explosion that trapped close to 800 miners underground, reports BBC. Soma and government officials said the mine had high safety standards and frequent inspections, notes AP.
On Saturday, the bodies of the last miners trapped underground were recovered by rescue workers and the mine’s entrance was sealed, reports AP. While protests have sprung up across Turkey, demonstrations and rallies have been banned at Soma with local authorities setting up checkpoints and detaining individuals while Erdogan has faced even more scrutiny after footage which allegedly shows him and his aide, Yusuf Yerkel, hitting protestors, surfaced, reports BBC.
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Officials are currently at the beginning of their investigation and are considering whether or not to press charges against Soma Holding, reports AP. The company’s head, Alp Gürkan, is facing a fraud lawsuit independent of the mining disaster, notes the Hürriyet.