As it happened: Turkey mine disaster

Key Points

  • More than 240 miners are killed in an explosion and a fire at a coal mine in Soma in western Turkey
  • Officials say a power unit blew up 2km (1.2 miles) underground, shutting down electricity supplies and ventilation systems
  • Around 120 people are still believed to be trapped
  • Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says fires are hampering rescue efforts and hopes of finding survivors are fading
  • The prime minister's office declares three days of national mourning
  • All times BST
  1.  
    09:15:

    Welcome to our live coverage of the coal mine disaster in western Turkey.

     
  2.  
    09:17:

    More than 200 workers have been confirmed dead and some 80 people are injured after an explosion inside a mine in the town of Soma. Hundreds more are missing.

     
  3.  
    Miners wait outside a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, early Wednesday 14 May 2014 Rescuers are desperately trying to reach those still trapped underground
     
  4.  
    09:27:

    Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people had been inside the privately-owned mine at Soma in Manisa province - around 120 km (75 miles) northeast of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir - when an electrical fault triggered the blast.

     
  5.  

    The disaster is likely to be the country's deadliest ever mining accident.

     
  6.  
    09:32:

    Mr Yildiz said carbon monoxide poisoning had claimed many lives and that oxygen was being pumped into the mine to help those still trapped. He added that hopes were fading that anyone else would be found alive.

     
  7.  
    09:39:

    TV footage in Turkey showed rescuers helping workers from the mine, their faces and hard-hats covered in soot and dust. Some were carried on stretchers to waiting ambulances.

     
  8.  
    Relatives of miners who were killed or injured in a mine explosion react as rescuers work in Soma in Turkey on 14 May 2014 Relatives have been gathering at the mine for news of their loved ones
     
  9.  

    The owners of the mine and and the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are facing mounting criticism about the safety record at the mine. The hashtag #kazadegilcinayet, which translates as "murder not an accident" is trending on Twitter.

     
  10.  
    09:43:

    The BBC's Rengin Arslan, who is at the scene in Soma, says the mood among concerned families at the mine is one of concern rather than anger. She says bodies wrapped in blankets are still being brought out from underground.

     
  11.  

    The company that owns the mine, Soma Komur Isletmeleri, has issued a statement saying the disaster happened "despite maximum safety measures and inspections". It says an investigation is under way.

     
  12.  
    09:51:

    The International Business Times is reporting that Turkey's government is coming under criticism and has been accused of dismissing a parliamentary motion last month to investigate safety in mines in Soma.

     
  13.  

    Andrew Watson from the Mines Rescue Service tells BBC World TV that mining operations in Turkey are "not held in high regard in terms of safety".

     
  14.  
    Journalist Ariane Bonzon

    tweets: Turkey has the worst mine safety record across all of Europe, with 2,554 miners losing their lives since 1991 (not included Soma death toll)

     
  15.  
    Rescue workers walk to a coal mine following an explosion in Soma, western Turkey, early Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Police and members of the army have been keeping the crowds back to allow emergency services in and out of the area
     
  16.  
    10:02:

    A statement from the Turkish Armed Forces says: "Our hearts go out to the grief-stricken families. We offer our condolences and ask that they be patient."

     
  17.  

    One of the miners who died in the disaster is believed to be just 15 years old, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News is reporting.

     
  18.  
    An injured miner is carried to an ambulance An injured miner is treated with an oxygen mask while being carried to an ambulance
     
  19.  

    Images of survivors escaping from the mine were recorded on security cameras, Turkey's Dogan News Agency says.

     
  20.  
    10:19:

    Beril Eski from the BBC Turkish service says there is a lot of anger towards the government in response to the disaster. She says people in Istanbul are calling for demonstrations to take place.

    There have been images posted on social media of people lying on the ground in the city's Taksim subway station in protest.

     
  21.  
    10:23:

    The BBC's Beril Eski adds that most of the miners are from the Soma area and the disaster will hit the town hard. Lignite coal mining is a major industry in the Soma area, helping to supply a nearby lignite-fired thermal power plant.

     
  22.  
    Map of Turkey The explosion happened at a mine about 450km (280 miles) west of the Turkish capital of Ankara.
     
  23.  
    James Reynolds BBC News, Turkey

    tweets: #Soma. Families near hospital

    Families near hospital
     
  24.  
    10:34:

    The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports that a judicial investigation has been launched into the mining disaster in Soma.

     
  25.  

    Hurriyet quotes chief public prosecutor, Durdu Kavak, as saying: "Some of the superiors whose arrests and testimonies are sought in a first stage are dead along with the workers."

     
  26.  

    The BBC website has put together a gallery of some of the photographs from the aftermath of the blast.

     
  27.  
    Turkish Red Crescent Society

    tweets: 20 psychologists are in #Soma for psychological support to families of coal miners. #Soma #Turkey

     
  28.  
    Relatives of miners react as they wait in front of a coal mine in Soma Relatives of miners have been waiting anxiously for any news from inside the coal mine in Soma
     
  29.  
    10:42:

    The BBC's Cagil Kasapoglu tells BBC World News TV there is a "growing anger" in Turkey over the disaster. She says unions in the country have accused the government of not implementing enough safety measures.

     
  30.  
    10:43:

    The BBC's Cagil Kasapoglu also says unions say many of the workers were sub-contractors and did not have enough training.

     
  31.  
    Family members wait outside a coal mine in Soma, Concerned family members have been waiting at the news from inside the mine.
     
  32.  
    Associated Press correspondent in Turkey Desmond Butler

    tweets: If you could see the faces of the volunteer rescue workers coming out of the Soma mine....Only dead bodies recovered now. A very sad scene.

     
  33.  

    Emine Gulsen, part of a group of women who sat wailing near the entrance to the mine, chanted in song, "My son is gone, my Mehmet." She told the Associated Press agency that her son had been working in the mine for five years.

     
  34.  
    CNN correspondent Ivan Watson

    tweets: Flag flying at half mast in Manisa province for 205 victims of coal mine disaster in Soma, Turkey. 100+ still missing

    Turkish flag flying at half mast
     
  35.  
    11:00:

    Photographs now emerging of Turkey's Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz visiting the coal mine in Soma, the scene of the disaster.

    Turkey's Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz visits the coal mine
     
  36.  
    10:59:

    Reports now on social networking sites that protesters have gathered in Istanbul near the offices of Soma Holdings, which owns the mine.

     
  37.  
    BBC's Zeynep Erdim

    tweets: People in tears, crying, fainting, holding each other, helping not to collapse around the hospital in Soma. #SomaMineAccident #Turkey

     
  38.  
    11:26:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent condolences to Turkey for the Soma mine disaster, the RIA Novosti news agency reports. In a message to President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan, he expresses condolences to the bereaved and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured, via BBC Monitoring.

     
  39.  
    11:28:

    Footballers from Turkey's Beşiktaş and Galatasaray football teams held a one minute silence before their training to mark the tragedy, reports the country's Hurriyet Daily News.

     
  40.  
    Yegane Guley

    tweets: Protests are taking place in Turkey due to the tragic mining accident.

     
  41.  
    11:38:

    There are growing fears that this could become Turkey's deadliest mining disaster, surpassing a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

     
  42.  
    11:44:

    BBC's James Reynolds, who is at the hospital in Soma, says relatives are outside waiting for news. "These relatives feel that the only place for them to be at the moment is here," he said. "All they are doing here is waiting."

     
  43.  
    A rescue worker looks on as smoke continues to billow from the coal mine A rescue worker looks on as smoke continues to billow from the coal mine
     
  44.  
    BBC World News presenter David Eades

    tweets: Turkey's Energy minister says mine have told him latest number of dead - but he does not want to say at this stage. Does not augur well.

     
  45.  
    12:02:

    Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News says the country's disaster response agency, AFAD, has published the names of 88 miners who were hospitalised after their rescue. It says 63 of them have been discharged while 25 are still being treated.

     
  46.  
    Family members react to news outside the mine Distraught family members react to news outside the mine
     
  47.  
    12:11:

    Turkey's labour and social security ministry says the mine has been inspected five times since 2012 - including in March of 2014, according to the Associated Press news agency. The ministry said no issues violating work safety and security were detected.

     
  48.  
    12:13:

    Pope Francis has asked people to pray for miners who died in the disaster, AP reports. He said: "Dear brothers, I invite you to pray for the miners who died yesterday in the Soma mine in Turkey and for those who are still trapped inside the tunnels. May the Lord receive the deceased and give comfort to their families."

     
  49.  
    Richard Moore, British Ambassador to Turkey

    tweets: Thoughts and prayers this morning remain with the families of the dead and missing miners of #Soma. Terrible tragedy.

     
  50.  
    12:18: Breaking News

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived at the site of a mining disaster in Soma, AFP news agency reports.

     
  51.  
    Cynara Siddiqui, Istanbul

    writes: I took this picture of a peaceful protest in Taksim Square earlier, reacting to the mining explosion and chanting that the government should quit.

    Protesters in Istanbul
     
  52.  
    12:25:

    Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has expressed his condolences for Turkey in a statement, saying: "We are with our Turkish friends and share their sorrow."

     
  53.  
    Graeme Hanssen in Izmir, Turkey

    writes: Small but vociferous protests have broken out on various local campuses. The last time that happened was 12 months ago, during the major riots across the country over Gezi Park.

     
  54.  
    12:29: Breaking News

    Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannon at around 800 protesters as they tried to march from a university in Ankara, the Turkish capital, to the energy ministry, report both the AFP agency and the Hurriyet Dailey News.

     
  55.  
    12:39:
    Prime Minister arrives at the mine Huge crowds gather as Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrives at the mine in Soma
     
  56.  
    12:41: Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet Daily News

    tweets: #UPDATE: Death toll climbs to 232 in #Soma coal mine disaster, #Turkish PM #Erdogan tells reporters

     
  57.  

    The Associated Press news agency is also quoting Turkey's prime minister as saying that the death toll in the mine disaster has risen to 232.

     
  58.  

    Leading Turkish unions are calling a nationwide one-day strike on Thursday in protest at working conditions in mines, following the Soma mine disaster, BBC Monitoring reports.

     
  59.  
    James Reynolds BBC News, Turkey

    tweets: Every few mins, crowd clears for paramedics to treat family members who have fainted. Soma hospital.

     
  60.  
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting rescue workers PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets rescue workers at the mine
     
  61.  
    12:56:

    "Their wait has now become a vigil" - BBC's James Reynolds reports from the hospital in Soma.

     
  62.  

    "The nightmare is that so many obstacles stand in the way of efforts to rescue any survivors," says the BBC's Science editor David Shukman on the obstacles facing rescuers.

     
  63.  
    Nilufer Saetrevik

    tweets: Our hearts are with #Soma miners in this time of sorrow.

     
  64.  
    Jose Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission

    tweets: #Turkey coal mine explosion: deeply shocked about deaths and injuries. Sending sincere condolences on behalf of @EU_Commission

     
  65.  
    A man lays carnations at the Miners Monument in central Soma, Turkey on 14 May 2014 A man lays carnations at the Miners Monument in central Soma
     
  66.  
    13:22:

    The chairman of the Turkish opposition CHP party, Faruk Logoglu, says there have been repeated accidents at the mine in Soma. "There is a huge unfortunately bad record at this particular mine," he said. "We said you have to do something about this and that it should be raised in the parliament but it was turned down by the government unfortunately."

     
  67.  
    James Reynolds BBC News, Turkey

    tweets: Soma mine

    GV of mine in Soma
     
  68.  
    13:32:

    Human rights group Amnesty International has released a statement calling for an "immediate independent and impartial investigation to determine the responsibilities of state officials and of officials within the private company running the mine".

     
  69.  
    13:36:

    The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports that relatives of the trapped miners are at a co-ordination centre near the site, browsing photos of bodies pulled from the mine to see if their loved ones are among them.

     
  70.  
    Orla Guerin BBC News, Turkey

    tweets: On a sad day for Turkey heading for Soma where so many miners have perished.

     
  71.  
    13:51:

    The explosion tore through the mine during a shift changeover, officials say, meaning there were more workers inside the mine than at other times.

     
  72.  
    13:52:
    A man prays beside a grave of a dead miner in Soma on 14 May 2014 Relatives have begun digging graves and burying some of the dead in a cemetery in Soma
     
  73.  
    Oya Akgoren UK

    tweets: What sort of safety regulation allows 800 miners to be inside the mine at the same time? #kazadegilcinayet

     
  74.  
    13:57:

    Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells a news conference 238 people are now confirmed to have died. "I extend my deepest condolences to the families and the rest of the nation," he says.

     
  75.  
    13:58:

    Mr Erdogan says: "I want to assure you that we have used all our resources to deal with this disaster in the most effective way possible."

     
  76.  
    14:01:

    Some 80 people have been injured in the accident, the prime minister says.

     
  77.  
    14:02:

    Prosecutors and the ministry of justice are investigating the disaster, he adds.

     
  78.  
    14:04:

    "I just want everyone to know that this will be investigated in every aspect... we are not going to leave any stone unturned," Mr Erdogan tells journalists at the live press conference in Soma.

     
  79.  
    14:08:
    Men work on a coffin in a carpenter's shop in Soma, a district in Turkey (14 May 2014) Men work on a coffin in a carpenter's shop in Soma
     
  80.  
    Sinem Harman, from Manisa, Turkey

    writes: I am currently in Belgium, but I am from Kirkagac, which is a few kilometres away from Soma. My family, relatives and friends are living there. They tell me there is not enough space for the dead in hospitals in Soma and Kirkagac. The dead are being carried to a cold storage depot located in Kirkagac.

     
  81.  
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a news conference PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been speaking at a news conference in Soma near the mine
     
  82.  
    14:24:

    To recap: at least 238 people have died after a blast caused a coal pit to collapse in the Turkish town of Soma, 450km (280 miles) from Ankara.

     
  83.  
    14:25:

    About 120 coal miners are still believed to be trapped. PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited the accident site in Soma, said an investigation would be opened into the explosion.

     
  84.  
    14:28:
    Distressed relative of coal miner in Soma (14 May 2014) Frantic relatives have gathered at the mine, waiting for news of loved ones.
     
  85.  
    Begum in Manisa

    writes: This explosion has affected us all emotionally. We are so sad. I really feel so sorry for the people who have lost someone. Everybody is trying to do their best and we are all waiting for good news.

     
  86.  
    14:29:

    "We are not 100% sure but an estimated number of 120 workers are believed to be trapped according to figures provided by the company," Turkey's prime minister earlier told reporters.

     
  87.  
    Hurriyet Daily News

    tweets: Hearses and coffins brought to #Soma from nearby towns to bury mine disaster victims http://bit.ly/1oOC8dN

    Coffins on the back of a truck
     
  88.  
    14:40:

    Until now Turkey's worst mining disaster was in 1992, when 263 miners were killed near Zonguldak, on the Black Sea.

     
  89.  
    14:46:

    Elsewhere in Turkey, police fired tear gas and protesters threw fire bombs at officers, during disturbances in the capital city of Ankara.

     
  90.  
    14:47:

    Around 800 protesters hurled stones at the police and shouted anti-government slogans as they tried to march from a university to the energy ministry in Ankara, AFP reports.

     
  91.  
    14:49:
    Police officer running from a fire bomb Here officers run from a fire bomb thrown at police in Ankara.
     
  92.  
    14:53:

    Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators also gathered outside the headquarters of the company which owns the mine, Soma Holding, in Istanbul. Some had sprayed "Murderers" on the walls.

     
  93.  
    15:00:

    The BBC's James Reynolds earlier posted a short video filmed showing large crowds outside the hospital in Soma http://bit.ly/RQmZxM

     
  94.  
    15:04:
    Police officer firing tear gas Police fired tear gas to disperse angry anti-government protesters in Ankara.
     
  95.  
    15:15:

    BBC World Service's Esra Dogramaci tells BBC World News TV the average wage for the miners was £10-£12 a day. She says people are not satisfied, adding: "Whenever you see something like this happen in Turkey, it turns into anti-government demonstrations quite quickly."

     
  96.  
    15:20:

    Turkish media have expressed shock and outrage over the accident, with social media users accusing the government of neglecting health and safety procedures.

     
  97.  
    15:23:
    People bury a dead miner in a cemetery in Soma following the disaster. People bury a dead miner in a cemetery in Soma following the disaster.
     
  98.  
    15:28:

    Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin writes in an opinion piece: "The government and the ruling party in Parliament ignored the warnings about the Soma mines, but the miners paid the price with their lives."

     
  99.  
    15:36:

    The prime minister has ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast, as part of three days of national mourning.

     
  100.  
    15:38:

    Unconfirmed reports are circulating on social media sites that there have been arrests and some disturbances while Prime Minister Recep Erdogan visited the mine earlier.

     
  101.  
    15:39:
    Recep Erdogan visiting the mine. The Turkish prime minister is seen here at the mine in Soma earlier today.
     
  102.  
    15:40:

    The Associated Press agency is now also reporting that violent protests have erupted in the town of Soma.

     
  103.  
    15:47:

    Reports that people in the crowd in Soma have expressed anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip, while rocks have been thrown and people shouted "murderer" and "thief."

     
  104.  
    Hakan Akcura

    tweets: Big protests in #Soma. 'Government resign' slogans and booing. #Erdogan fled in to a supermarket.

     
  105.  
    15:53:

    At his press conference earlier, the prime minister reprimanded an al-Jazeera journalist for asking why the government allowed the mining company Soma to still operate. "As a journalist, I believe that you don't follow closely how coal mines work around the world," Mr Erdogan said. "It may be because there are natural gas reserves, but not coal mines in Qatar."

     
  106.  
    15:57:

    Some have criticised the prime minister as being insensitive, after he cited mining accidents in 19th Century Britain to defend the Turkish government's mining record.

     
  107.  
    15:58:

    "I went back in British history," the prime minister said. "Some 204 people died there after a mine collapse in 1838. In 1866, 361 miners died in Britain. In an explosion in 1894, 290 people died there."

     
  108.  
    Freelance reporter Laura Wells

    tweets: #Soma, #Turkey People protest PM #Erdogan in wake of mine disaster face police via @140journous @hilmihacaloglu

    Protests in Soma
     
  109.  
    16:15:

    Angry protesters reportedly kicked the prime minister's car and called for the government's resignation after his visit to Soma.

     
  110.  
    Grieving relative on the grave of a miner in Soma (14 May 2014) People mourn at the grave of a dead miner after the burial service in a cemetery in Soma
     
  111.  
    16:24:

    Miner Kemal Yildiz, who died in Soma, was only 15 years old, one of his relatives told the Dogan news agency on the sideline of a nearby morgue. "I have nothing to say," the mourning uncle said.

     
  112.  
    16:29:

    If you are just joining us, welcome to our live coverage of the Soma coal mine disaster in western Turkey, which has left at least 230 miners dead. Hopes are fading for some 120 people still trapped underground after a power unit exploded while, above ground, anger is continuing over responsibility for the disaster. Stay with us for news updates as they come in, reports by correspondents and comments from our readers.

     
  113.  
    16:37:

    One elderly woman, named only as Sengul, had two nephews working in the mine along with the sons of two of her neighbours, Reuters news agency reports. "We haven't heard anything from any of them, not among the injured, not among the list of dead," she said. "It's what people do here, risking their lives for two cents... They say one gallery in the mine has not been reached but it's almost been a day."

     
  114.  
    16:42: Breaking News

    The Soma mine operator has just said that 450 of its workers were rescued after the fire - Reuters.

     
  115.  
    16:46:

    The operator added that the cause of the fire had not yet been established, according to Reuters. "The subsequent spread of carbon monoxide is, unfortunately, the reason for the loss of life," it said.

     
  116.  
    16:50:
    A miner is helped to safety from the disaster site in Soma, western Turkey, 14 May A miner is helped to safety from the disaster site
     
  117.  
    16:54:

    One Soma miner, Oktay Berrin, tells AFP news agency workers are not protected underground. "There is no security in this mine," he says. "The unions are just puppets and our management only cares about money."

     
  118.  
    17:00:
    Hands painted in black (14 May 2014) Protesters in Istanbul blackened their hands and faces in memory of the miners
     
  119.  
    17:03:

    The death toll has risen to 245, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announces - AFP.

     
  120.  
    Shabtai Gold DPA news agency

    tweets: Loud alarm whirling sound. Lift begins to move. Orange suited rescue workers bring out another dead body covered in blanket. #Soma, turkey

     
  121.  
    17:07:

    The fire at the mine is still burning and toxic carbon monoxide fumes are hampering rescue efforts, Mr Yildiz said (AFP).

     
  122.  
    Jim Roberts Executive Editor at Mashable

    tweets: #Turkey protesters wear yellow hard-hats in solidarity with miners in #Soma.

    Protesters in Turkey
     
  123.  
    17:18:

    Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu also visited the disaster site today. One unconfirmed report says that he, like Prime Minister Erdogan, received a hostile reception.

     
  124.  
    17:18:

    CCTV footage released earlier shows rescuers working underground to find survivors and victims of the Soma explosion.

     
  125.  
    Kate Benyon-Tinker BBC News producer, Soma

    tweets: The agonising wait for news about their loved ones - relatives in grounds of Soma hospital

    Relatives in the grounds of Soma hospital, western Turkey, 14 May
     
  126.  
    17:35:

    The White House says it is ready to help the Turkish government if necessary, AFP reports. Its thoughts and prayers are with the Turks, it adds.

     
  127.  
    17:43:

    Mine operator Soma has defended its working practices, saying its staff were unionised and all had insurance and social security benefits. The company added that its site was inspected every six months.

     
  128.  
    17:49:
    Mine in Soma (14 May 2014) Smoke is seen billowing from the main entrance of the coal mine in Soma
     
  129.  
    18:00:

    And that brings us to the end of our live coverage of the Turkish mine disaster, where more than 240 people were killed and some 120 are missing. As a fire still burns at the mine, there is anger with the authorities on the streets of Turkish cities over the running of the mining industry and the handling of the disaster. Relatives of the missing miners are enduring an agonising wait for news. Stay with our story for the latest developments.

     

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.