The Turkish government has announced that a mine blast in the Amasra district of the northern province of Bartın claimed the lives of 41 people and left 11 others injured.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the explosion site on Saturday and said that all of those responsible for the blast will be identified in the coming days. The preliminary findings show that the blast was caused by firedamp, a term referring to methane in coal mines.
Erdoğan said his government had always prioritised the safety of miners and the mine where the blast had happened had been visited by the inspectors a month ago.
“Despite the fact that, among our quarries, Amasra Coal Establishment is the one with the most advanced technology, some might mock this but, we are people who believe in the plan of destiny. Such things will always happen, we should know that,” Erdoğan said, causing an outrage on social media and among opposition politicians.
According to a report prepared by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the number of mine accidents in Turkey was seven times higher than the US and 1,042 miners have lost their lives due to occupational accidents between 2011 and 2021.
Some 301 workers were killed in 2014 in the western town of Soma, which is known as the worst ever mining disaster that took place in the country. Erdoğan said after the Soma incident that such deaths were normal as they were in the nature of the occupation.
Opposition parties also sent delegations to inspect the explosion site and shared statements offering their condolences to the families of the miners that were killed.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement that the profit-seeking ambitions of the Turkish government was the reason behind the blast.
“What happened is neither an accident nor destiny. Unchecked and unsafe working conditions are the only reason behind the occupational murders and the deaths of workers,” it said.
The HDP added that it would continue to fight against the mentality that see occupational deaths as destiny.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said that he would follow the case, adding that asking accountability for possible negligence was a responsibility. Kılıçdaroğlu also went to Bartın and attended the funeral of one mine worker who was killed on Friday night.
Meanwhile, two lawmakers of the CHP pointed out a report prepared by the Supreme Court of Public Accounts, which showed that the findings indicated the possibility of serious accidents.