Turkish police clash with protesters in mine disaster town

Friday 16 May 2014 22.03
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Protesters clashed with police in a number of Turkish cities
Protesters clashed with police in a number of Turkish cities
More than 280 bodies have been recovered from the mine
More than 280 bodies have been recovered from the mine
Relatives check the lists of survivors in Soma
Relatives check the lists of survivors in Soma

Turkish police have fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse a crowd of several thousand protesters in the town of Soma, where close to 300 people died in the country's worst ever mining disaster this week.

People scattered into side streets as the police intervened on a commercial street lined with shops and banks, as well as the offices of the local government and labour union.

Anger has swept Turkey as the extent of the disaster became clear, with protests partly directed at mine owners accused of prioritising profit over safety, and partly at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, seen as too cosy with industry tycoons and too lax in enforcing regulations.
              
Fire sent carbon monoxide coursing through the coal mine within minutes on Tuesday but the exact cause of the disaster remains unclear, the mine operator said.
              
Most of the 787 workers inside had oxygen masks but smokeand gas spread so quickly that many were unable to escape, with 284 confirmed dead and 18 believed still to be trapped.

The fire knocked out power and shut down the ventilation shafts and elevators, trapping hundreds underground.

Rescuers are still trying to reach parts of the mine more than two days after the disaster.

The operation was hampered overnight as the fire inside the mine continued, making it extremely hazardous for crews to retrieve bodies.

Ventilation systems that pump fresh air into the mine were relocated to allow teams back inside.

The fire broke out during a shift change, leading to uncertainty over the exact number of miners trapped.

Today is the second of three days of national mourning.

Keywords: mine, turkey, soma