Mining company in Soma ignored high levels of toxic gases at devastated mine

Sensors noted high levels of toxic gas inside a coal mine days before the disaster that killed 301 workers in Turkey but company officials took no action, Turkish news reports said Monday.

SOMA, Turkey — Sensors noted high levels of toxic gas inside a coal mine days before the disaster that killed 301 workers in Turkey but company officials took no action, Turkish news reports said Monday.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, formally arrested two more people for the devastating mine fire in the western town of Soma, raising the number of suspects facing charges of negligent death to five. Those detained included executives and supervisors at mine owner Soma Komur Isletmeleri A.S., prosecutors say.

Chief prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said 25 people were initially detained as part of the probe, but several were released without charges while eight others were released but could be charged later. Authorities were still questioning others, including the company’s CEO, Can Gurkan, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The Hurriyet, HaberTurk and other Turkish newspapers said prosecutors and inspectors probing the worst mining disaster in Turkey’s history had seized data from the mine that indicated sensors showed high gas levels inside the mine as early as two days before the May 13 disaster. The reports say company officials did not record these high levels on log books and took no precautionary actions.

The Turkish newspapers did not cite source for their reports. Sahiner did not answer calls and no one picked up telephones at the prosecutors’ office in Soma or in the nearby city of Akhisar, which is leading the probe.

But miners who survived the disaster also told The Associated Press that supervisors ignored rising gas levels and failed to take precautionary measures. They have accused the company of failing to heed safety concerns and that government inspections has been superficial.

Sahiner said Saturday that a preliminary probe indicated that coal had been smouldering days before the disaster, causing the roof to collapse in one part of the mine and unleashing toxic gases that spread throughout.

Government and mining officials have both said that most victims died from toxic gases released by the fire. They have insisted, however, that the mine was inspected regularly, that safety standards were high and that negligence wasn’t a factor in the fire.

Government officials have promised to investigate and pledged that any mine officials found to be negligent would be punished. Still the disaster has provoked anger at a critical time for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he mulls running in August’s presidential election.

Police have broken up protests denouncing poor mine safety in Soma and in Turkey’s three largest cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

Nearly 2,000 university students, some wearing hard-hats, called on the government to resign as they marched Monday in Ankara to commemorate the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence started on May 19, 1919.

Erdogan on Monday defended the government’s response to the disaster and rejected accusations that the mining company had political ties to his ruling party.

“They say the boss is a party supporter,” Erdogan said. “I saw him for the first time (in Soma). I don’t know him… They (opponents) think they will gain from such slander.”

Turkey’s national soccer team visited Soma on Monday in a show of solidarity and prayed at the miners’ graves.

Just Posted

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

Alberta’s debt clock on the road to drive home fiscal message

Canadian Taxpayers Federation raising concerns about Alberta’s $45 billion debt

Red Deer’s Ryan Vandervlis out of intensive care, able to communicate

An Alberta player with the Western Hockey League who was seriously burned… Continue reading

Trump-Putin summit opens without talk of election meddling

HELSINKI — With a wink and a slouch, respectively, President Donald Trump… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Statelessness a hurdle for some rescued Thai boy

MAE SAI, Thailand — The 12 boys and coach of the Wild… Continue reading

Lobbying commissioner rejects complaints against firearms panel member

OTTAWA — A federal watchdog has dismissed complaints that a mass-shooting survivor… Continue reading

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says the number of homes… Continue reading

Red Deer Royals place second at Calgary Stampede parade

Royals depicted life in forest and portrayed destruction by human beings

Muslim candidates running in record numbers face backlash

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A liberal woman of colour with zero name recognition… Continue reading

Former UK Cabinet secretary seeks new Brexit referendum

LONDON — A former U.K. Cabinet minister from the ruling Conservative Party… Continue reading

Man killed by Chicago police ran away, reached for waist

CHICAGO — A man killed by Chicago police had a gun in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month