Turkey mine disaster: 25 arrested over Soma deaths

  • 18 May 2014
  • From the section Europe
People mourn their relatives at the cemetery where some of the 301 people killed in the Soma disaster were buried, on May 18, 2014
Image caption The explosion at the Soma mine last Tuesday caused Turkey's worst mining disaster

Turkish police have arrested 25 people following the country's worst-ever mining disaster, remanding three of them in custody.

Those held - who include the general manager of the mine - were questioned in the western town of Soma.

The bodies of the last missing workers were recovered on Saturday. The final death toll stands at 301.

There have been fierce protests against the government and the operators of the coal mine in recent days.

Among those arrested on Sunday were general manager Ramazan Dogru and the mine's operations manager Akin Celik, Turkey's Dogan news agency said.

Image caption Anti-government demonstrations have broken out in several cities since the disaster

Muzaffer Yildirim, a miner whose brother died in Tuesday's incident, told the BBC the managers were responsible for the disaster and "should be punished".

It occurred when an explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine's tunnels while 787 miners were underground.

Soma Holding insists it was not caused by negligence. A representative said on Friday that an unexplained build-up of heat appeared to have led to the collapse.

On Saturday, hundreds of people marched through the western city of Izmir and there were protests in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

In Soma local authorities have banned demonstrations. Police have set up checkpoints and detained dozens of people on Saturday.

The ban followed clashes there on Friday, when riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon when a protest briefly turned violent.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for appearing insensitive in his reaction to the disaster.

Both Mr Erdogan and his aide Yusuf Yerkel have come under pressure after photos appearing to show them assaulting protesters were published in Turkish media.

After the last two bodies were brought to the surface on Saturday, authorities sealed the mine entrance with bricks.

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