Mass funerals take place as Turkey mourns mine workers

Friday 16 May 2014 06.31
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Funerals have been taking place for the men who died in the disaster
Funerals have been taking place for the men who died in the disaster
The death toll is expected to rise further after the explosion and fire
The death toll is expected to rise further after the explosion and fire
Ambulances queue outside the mine in Soma, as three days of national mourning begin
Ambulances queue outside the mine in Soma, as three days of national mourning begin
A relative of one of the missing men is restrained outside the mine
A relative of one of the missing men is restrained outside the mine
Prime ministerial aide Yusuf Yerkel was captured kicking a protester at the mine
Prime ministerial aide Yusuf Yerkel was captured kicking a protester at the mine
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has been visiting the survivors in hospital
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has been visiting the survivors in hospital

Funerals have been taking place in Soma, in western Turkey, for many of those who died in the countries worst ever mining disaster.

Turkey's main labour unions held a one-day nationwide strike today in protest at the death of 282 miners.

Meanwhile, loudspeakers broadcast the names of the dead as rows of graves were filled in the close-knit mining town.

Hope is fading for more than 120 miners still unaccounted for. 

Anger is mounting over the country's worst mining accident as three days of national mourning begin.

Thousands of people clashed with police in the main cities of Istanbul and Ankara last night.

Police have again fired tear gas at protesters today.

"Those who keep up with privatisation policies, who threaten workers' lives to reduce cost are the culprits of Soma massacre and they must be held accountable," said Turkey's Public Workers Unions Confederation.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last night defended the country's mining safety record in the wake of the disaster.

He said: "Such mine accidents do not happen only in Turkey. It also happens in many countries such as the United States, China, France, India and Belgium."

The accident happened on Tuesday when an electrical fault caused an explosion and a deadly fire in the mine, which is 480km southwest of Istanbul.

Emergency workers pumped oxygen into the mine to try to keep those trapped alive during a rescue effort that lasted through the night.

In a separate development, images have emerged of an aide of Mr Erdogan kicking a man who is being wrestled to the ground by two police officers.

The incident happened during protests as Mr Erdogan visited the mine in Soma yesterday.

Advisor Yusuf Yerkel confirmed to the BBC that he was the man in the images.

Keywords: mine, turkey, soma