Turkish media reflect nation's mourning, anger over mine disaster

Compilations of Turkish front pages Image copyright other
Image caption The Soma story covers the front pages with some publications changing their mastheads to black

Turkish papers and websites reflect the mood of national mourning over the Soma mine disaster, with many printing their front pages with black backgrounds.

Photos from the disaster site dominate all the major front pages. The most prominent images are of victims being stretchered away by rescuers, and the faces of grieving relatives.

"Every breath is death," reads the headline of the widely read centre-right daily Hurriyet. "Not enough coffins," is the headline in Zaman.

"They gave their lives," says the front page of prominent centrist daily Milliyet.

The Posta daily has printed its name in black with a large banner headline reading "We died". The headlines on both the pro-government centre-right Star and Aksam dailies are the same: "We are mourning."

Tears and anger

There are some hard-hitting editorials and commentaries in the wake of the disaster. Left-wing and more secular-minded Turkish media outlets lead the criticism.

Hurriyet's website carries an editorial by Murat Yetkin headlined "Miners paid for the government's ignorance with their lives".

"It was PM Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party that rejected a demand for a parliamentary investigation regarding safety in the Soma mines just two weeks ago," the editorial says, adding that the government "ignored the warnings about the Soma mines".

"Has anyone thought of resigning? Has anyone assumed responsibility for at least 238 miners' lives that have been lost so far? Nothing in sight," it says.

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Image caption 'Mourning'
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Image caption 'We died'
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Image caption 'Give up the tales, you have massacred them'; 'Anger towards Erdogan'
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Image caption 'Every breath is death'; 'Russian roulette shift change'
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Image caption 'They gave their lives'; 'Screams of Ayodan' as a young newlywed loses her husband in the tragedy
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Image caption 'Not enough coffins'; 'Sad stories after the fire that burnt Turkey's heart'
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Image caption 'You will drown in our tears'

The left-wing daily Taraf's front page calls the accident an "intentional massacre" and criticises Mr Erdogan's statement to reporters that such risks were in the nature of the mining profession.

Cumhuriyet's headline strikes a similar note: "Give up the tales, you have massacred them."

It reports on the "great anger" and violent protests when Mr Erdogan visited the disaster site.

"What happened in Soma is not an accident but an obvious massacre and murder," says a commentary by Hikmet Cetinkaya. The writer accuses the government of favouring its supporters in bidding contracts and of turning a blind eye to safety issues.

A commentary by Sahin Alpay in the moderate, pro-Islamic Zaman says the country has come face to face with the most tragic mine accident in Turkish history.

"No-one can claim that the government, the administration, does not have any responsibility in this accident; it cannot just skirt over this by saying that this is the 'will of God'."

"Anger against Tayyip!" reads the front page of secular Kemalist tabloid Sozcu. It features a photo of Mr Erdogan's car surrounded by protesting crowds in Soma.

But the pro-government daily Yeni Safak takes issue with those who blame the authorities, saying they have rushed to make political capital out of the grief of the bereaved families.

"This nation will not take into consideration the calls for revenge of those who turn the mourning of hundreds of families, the sorrow of the millions, into a cover" for their political grudges, it says.

Social media abuzz

Social media are abuzz with commentary about the disaster, much of it critical of the authorities and Mr Erdogan in particular.

One posting on Facebook points out that this year's May Day rallies on Istanbul's Taksim Square were prohibited by the government. "There were measures taken in this country for the workers not to march, unfortunately no measures were taken for the workers not to die," it says.

Twitter users have shared a photo of Mr Erdogan speaking to some of the people in Soma, and criticised what they say was his angry response to one of the grieving relatives.

Another widely-shared picture is of a rescued miner who wanted to take off his boots in order not to make the rescuers' stretcher dirty.

One user commented: "Take it easy, brother, your boots are the cleanest thing in this country."

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