Workers build walls at two entrances of Soma mine

Workers build walls at two entrances of Soma mine

Workers built wall in entrance of the Soma mine. (Photo: AP)

May 18, 2014, Sunday/ 17:59:02/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / ISTANBUL
Two of the four entrances to the mine in Soma, where a disaster last week claimed the lives of 301 workers, have been closed.

Rescue efforts in the mining town of Soma ended on Sunday. Workers, supposedly preparing the mine for a legal investigation, put up walls blocking two of the mine's entrances. Walls from autoclaved concrete blocks have also been put up inside the mine in front of the entries of some galleries, reports said. Officials say the purpose of the walls is to contain the fire still raging on in the mine.
 
Entry to the mine area was blocked on Sunday, with gendarmerie soldiers only letting authorized officials through. Journalists were also not allowed into the mine. Officials have said a technical investigation is ongoing at the site.
 
The authorities have also said workers entering the site carrying concrete blocks were going to repair the parts of the mine where there is a risk of collapsing. The chief prosecutor, work safety inspectors and experts will visit the site after the repair work is done, they said.
 
The same individuals have already examined one part of the mine. After the preparations are complete, they will be examining the specific part of the mine where the fire that caused the accident initially occurred to establish its cause. Claims as to the cause of the fire have included the explosion of a transformer, coal catching fire due to overheating and a methane gas explosion.
 
An ambulance and paramedics waited outside the mine on Sunday to assist the repairmen in case of an accident.
 
Officials say whether the same mine will go back to production will be decided after the investigation is over. Apart from those working on the site, the facility was empty on Sunday. Several pairs of workers' boots covered in soot laid on the ground.

Body count confusion

 
On Sunday the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) announced the names of those miners who were rescued alive. A total of 486 names were announced, bringing the total number of miners who were inside the mine at the time of the accident to 787.
 
The Soma branch of the Republican People's Party (CHP), unconvinced of the numbers, has opened a missing persons office in the mining town to locate the bodies. CHP Deputy Chairman Yakup Akkaya claimed: “Everybody in Soma says there are inconsistencies with the numbers. There are people who still haven't found their relatives. We don't want anything to be covered up.”
 
CHP Manisa branch Chairman Hasan Cihat Kaplan and CHP Soma branch Chairman Murat Bayramoğlu are in charge of coordinating the efforts of the missing persons office.
 
Akkaya said: “We are facing such a painful situation that has gone down in world history. We don't know what to say.”
 
When the CHP opened its office, the 486 names hadn't been announced. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız had initially said there were 787 workers trapped inside the mine. Although the total count now comes to 787, the CHP suspects there are some miners unaccounted for among the dead.
 
The CHP called on victims' families to contact their missing persons office if they have failed to locate the body of a loved one.
 
Several human rights groups were in Soma on Saturday. None of them have yet expressed concern or doubts concerning the truth of the figures provided by the government.