Turkish opposition politicians are demanding an impartial and effective investigation into a mine blast in Bartin province, northern Turkey, that killed 41 miners and injured another 11.
“There is a prosecution process but this prosecution process needs to be independent and impartial,” Mehmet Ali Babacan, president of the opposition DEVA Party said on Sunday during his visit to Bartin.
Babacan said a standard prosecutor’s investigation would not be enough to resolve one of the deadliest mine accidents in Turkish history.
“A process of research and investigation commissions must be started in parliament on this issue, so that the issue can be addressed independently,” he said.
There were 110 miners in the mine during the blast that occurred 350 metres below ground level, due to high levels of methane gas.
Experts and unions question the security measures.
“Gas monitoring system data could not be reached by our chamber,” the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, TMMOB, said on Monday after its first investigation.
“If you send miners hundreds of meters underground without taking the necessary precautions, without inspection and without creating safe conditions, you cannot call it an accident. This is downright murder. … Those who sent our miner brothers to death in plain sight are responsible for this murder. Those who do not take security measures in the mine are responsible for this murder,” TMMOB said.
Turkey has a bad record of mine accidents.
According to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, Turkey has the highest number of miners who lost their lives in mine accidents; 189 miners lost their lives between 2019 and 2021 in Turkey. Ukraine followed Turkey with 57 dead miners, and Mongolia came third with 37.
The incident in Bartin is the deadliest mine accident since the 2014 Soma mine accident in western Turkey, in which 301 miners were killed.
The funerals of the 41 miners who lost their lives in the blast were organised on Sunday with the attendance of relatives, colleagues, politicians and others. 11 miners are still in hospitals and the situation of 5 miners remain in a critical condition.