Two more charged over Turkey mine disaster

2014-05-19 16:16
People stand in front of a hospital as they wait for news of relatives in Soma. (Bulent Kilic, AFP)

People stand in front of a hospital as they wait for news of relatives in Soma. (Bulent Kilic, AFP)

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Ankara - Two more officials in Turkey have been charged with manslaughter as the government promised "a plan of action" to improve mining safety after the country's worst mining disaster claimed 301 lives, a spokesperson said on Monday.

A total of five officials from mining company Soma Komur have now been charged with manslaughter, news agency Dogan reported, with more due before prosecutors on Monday.

Meanwhile, the government said it would outline improved controls on mining safety this week, focusing on improved coordination between supervising agencies, according to a spokesperson quoted in the daily Sabah newspaper.

Ankara may also ratify the International Labour Organisation's convention on mining health and safety, the paper added.

According to the ILO, Turkey had the highest number of work deaths in Europe in 2012, and the third highest in the world. From 2002 to 2012, more than 1 000 Turkish miners have been killed.

Manslaughter charges

Since last Tuesday's explosion at the Soma mine, the government and mining officials have been accused of negligence, sparking protests in several towns and cities.

A total of 25 mining officials were detained for questioning by the police on Sunday under orders from investigators.

The five charged with manslaughter include general manager of Soma Komur, Akin Celik, as well as two engineers and two supervisors, Dogan reported.

The lead prosecutor in Soma, Bekir Sahiner, ruled out on Sunday that an electrical fault triggered the fire that spread through the mine.

Rescue operations were suspended on Saturday as information from families suggested that all the bodies had been recovered.

Police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse large protests in Turkey's main cities, and another demonstration is planned in Ankara on Monday.

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