Turkish police detain 24 in mine disaster probe

Turkish police detain 24 in mine disaster probe

Turkish police detain 24 in mine disaster probe

Turkish police today detained 24 people, including mining executives, suspected of negligence over the disaster that killed 301 people and sparked fury at the government and officials, local media reported.

Rescue operations ended yesterday after the bodies of the last two trapped miners were retrieved following the country's worst ever industrial disaster in the western town of Soma.

Dozens of prosecutors have been assigned to investigate the fire and explosion believed to have been sparked by an electrical fault at a private mine.

Among those detained is Akin Celik, general director of mine operator Soma Komur, NTV television reported. The suspects could face charges including manslaughter, it added.Soma Komur has vehemently denied any negligence.

"We have all worked very hard. I have not seen such an incident in 20 years," Celik said on Friday. The labour ministry also denied culpability, saying the mine had been inspected every six months.

A preliminary expert report on the accident obtained by the Milliyet newspaper pointed to several safety violations in the mine, including a shortage of carbon monoxide detectors and ceilings made of wood instead of metal.

The authenticity of the report could not be immediately verified. A group of rescue workers told NTV that a cave-in had occurred in the mine after the ceilings burnt down and collapsed due to the fire.

The Soma disaster has sparked a wave of fury against the government, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his expected run for the presidency in August.

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