Arrests, detention over last month's mine disaster
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULDec 07, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Dec 07, 2016 12:00 am
Authorities Tuesday arrested four and detained three others in the eastern city of Siirt, where a mine was buried by a landslide last month. Mining company officials including a safety expert were among the four arrested, while the deputy manager of the mining company was detained with two others. The company's manager was arrested earlier in the investigation into possible negligence in the incident where 16 miners were trapped under tons of soil. Four miners are still trapped in the mine in Siirt's Şirvan district, while 14 bodies have been recovered since the incident on Nov. 17.
The open-pit mine collapsed after it was struck by a landslide believed to have been triggered by heavy rain. Authorities first arrested Mehmet Oğuz, operating manager of the mine run by Park Elektrik, a company of the Ciner business conglomerate, on charges of negligence relating to work safety. Five others from the company and its subcontractor Antlar İnşaat who were detained on similar charges were released.
Authorities have pledged to undertake a comprehensive probe into the incident, the latest in the country that saw the worst mining disaster in its history kill 301 workers in western Turkey in 2014.
Madenköy, where the copper mine is located, is one of the most important copper reserves in Turkey and was first excavated in 1969 by the state-run mining authority. It was handed over to the private sector in 2003 and Park Elektrik bought the mine in 2004. The company has extracted from the mine some 10 million tons of copper ore as of the end of May this year.
This is not the first incident in a mine run by Ciner companies. Between Feb. 6 and Feb. 10 in 2011, two mines run by Ciner in southern Turkey collapsed. One miner was killed in the first collapse while only one body from the 10 workers trapped was recovered from the mine. The incidents were blamed on "slope failure."
Turkey, rich in coal especially in the west and the north, saw the worst mining disaster in its history in May 2014. A total of 301 workers were killed after they were trapped in the Soma coal mine that caught fire in the eponymous town in western Turkey. Five months later, another coal mine in the central town of Ermenek flooded and 18 miners were killed. The owners and managers of both mines face life sentences for negligence. Although Turkey has in place strict regulations regarding work safety in the mining sector, the fatalities are blamed on privately-run mines ignoring expensive safety measures for the sake of higher revenues.