The operating manager of the coal mine where 18 miners were trapped due to flooded water has said they measured the content of the leaked water inside the mine by “tasting” it, while five people including the operating manager were arrested.
The operating manager of the Has Şekerler Mining Company, Yavuz Özsoy, said in his testimony that water leaked from time to time in the mine and they determined the origin of the water by “tasting” samples of it on their tongue. Özsoy said this method allowed them to define whether it was simply natural underground water or dirty water accumulated from another older mine. If it was the latter, they would realize that the situation was dangerous.
Five people including Özsoy, the owner of the mine Saffet Uyar, and the owner of the mining areas’ license Abdullah Özbey were arrested by a local court in Ermenek on Nov. 11 on charges of “causing death due to conscious negligence.” Three other suspects who had been detained were released by the court pending trial.
Some 18 miners have been trapped since the Oct. 28 flood deep inside a coal mine in the town of Ermenek in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman. Two of the miners’ bodies were recovered on Nov. 6.
The cause of the accident is yet to be determined.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has said that whoever was responsible for the tight space between the old and new galleries of the Ermenek mine was guilty.
“We will [continue] to inspect and confirm whatever the working conditions there are. It is for certain that the approach distance between the old gallery and the new gallery has narrowed down to 6-7 meters. Whoever participated in this decision is guilty,” said Yıldız on Nov. 11.
He also added that 94 mines had been shut down after inspections were conducted since last May, when Turkey’s deadliest mine explosion killed 301 coal miners in Soma, in the western province of Manisa.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is set to announce amendments to labor safety laws and mining on Nov. 12, following a recent wave of mine disasters across Turkey.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara on Nov. 10 that the energy and labor ministers had made presentations to the Cabinet on their latest efforts regarding workers’ safety and the country’s mining sector. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Labor Minister Faruk Çelik and Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan were at the Ermenek mine site to monitor efforts to reach the trapped miners ahead of the Nov. 10 meeting.
“Our prime minister will make public all the issues on Çelik and Yıldız’s agenda in an extensive announcement on Wednesday [Nov. 12],” Arınç said.