At Least 301 Dead In Turkey’s Deadliest Coal Mining Disaster

Updated: At least 301 have died in the country’s worst mining accident. Protests against the government erupted across Turkey on Wednesday.

1. Updated — May 17, 10:54 a.m. ET: Turkey’s energy minister says rescue workers have finished their search after retrieving two final bodies of miners, The Associated Press reports.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Saturday that the death toll from the May 13 disaster is now 301. He said 485 miners escaped or were rescued.

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2. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday, May 13, has killed at least 301 people in what has become the country’s worst mining disaster.

(AP Photo/IHA)

The death toll of 301 people was confirmed by Turkey’s energy minister.

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3. A power distribution center caused an explosion and fire at the mine situated in the town of Soma, 155 miles south of Istanbul.

(AP Photo/IHA)
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4. The White House issued a statement on the tragedy on Wednesday, May 14:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Turkey today in the wake of a coal mine explosion in Soma, in which some 200 have been killed and hundreds more remain trapped. On behalf of the American people, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our best wishes for the safe exit of the remaining miners. Turkey is a close and longstanding friend and ally of the United States. We are ready to assist the Turkish government if necessary, and we will continue to stand together in this time of tragedy.”

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5. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was booed by angry crowds after a speech in Soma in which he said “these things happen.” Many called on the government to resign after its failure to enforce safety regulations at mines.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, is surrounded by security members as he visits the coal mine in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14.

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6. A violent protest erupted in Soma where crowds expressed anger at Erdogan’s government. The protests soon spread to other parts of Turkey, including Istanbul and Ankara.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Riot police try to stop protesters who were attacking the Soma offices of the Prime Minister’s Justice and Development Party during his visit to the coal mine in Soma, on Wednesday.

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7. Angry protestors in Soma threw rocks and shouted that Erdogan was a “murderer” and a “thief.”

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
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8. The Turkish government declared three days of national mourning following one of the country’s worst mining disasters.

OZAN KOSE/AFP / Getty Images

Protesters paint their faces as miners and a hold a newspaper “read: black news” at Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on May 14.

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OZAN KOSE/AFP / Getty Images

Protesters with hands and faces painted as miners take part in a protest on Istiklal Avenue on May 14 in Istanbul, a day after the coal mine explosion.

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10. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday that 787 people were working inside at the time of the accident and 363 of them had been rescued so far.


A miner’s father kisses his son who was rescued after the mine explosion.

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11. Rescue efforts began at first light.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
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12. However, the Associated Press reported that the slow pace at which workers are being rescued has dimmed hope for those who are still trapped.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
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AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

A miner cries as rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner from the mine in Soma.

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14. At least 80 miners were injured, including four who were in serious condition, Yildiz told reporters.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner outside the coal mine.

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15. Yildiz said the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

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16. The accident occurred during a shift change, officials said, which likely raised the casualty toll because there were more miners inside the mine than usual.

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The condition of the trapped miners is unknown. Rescue teams pumped fresh air into the mine, but their efforts were hampered by the mile-long tunnels that make up the mine.

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17. The death toll could jump dramatically, according to authorities who were making arrangements to set up a cold storage facility for the corpses of the miners.

AP Photo/Depo Photos

Family members of the trapped miners gather near the entrance of the mine.

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18. The mine’s operator, the Soma Coal Mining Company, said in a statement that the last inspection of the mine two months ago found nothing contrary to mining regulations.

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19. Fatal mining accidents are common in Turkey. Unions have long been critical of the government’s failure to supervise mining activities.

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20. Here’s a video from AP of the rescue efforts.

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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