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Death toll rises in Soma mining disaster

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World Coal,

The death toll at the Soma coal mine disaster has risen to 282 with over 100 miners still missing, making it the worst mining disaster in the country’s history.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by high gas concentrations and fire in the mine, said the Turkish energy minister, Taner Yildiz, overnight. No survivors have been found since dawn on Wednesday.

According to government officials, 363 miners are so far known to have survived the explosion, which was caused by an electrical fault – less than half of 787 workers in the mine at the time.

Union anger

Turkish unions have reacted with anger, blaming the disaster on privatisation of the mine and calling a one-day strike in protest: "Those who pursue privatisation […] policies, who threaten workers' lives to reduce cost […] are the culprits of the Soma massacre and they must be held accountable," said a statement by the Public Workers Unions Confederation, quoted by the BBC.

The Soma mine was privatised in 2005.

Prime minister booed

Visiting the mine, Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was booed and his car kicked by protesters, who called for his resignation. Meanwhile, protestors in Ankara were prevented from marching on the Energy Ministry by police firing tear gas and water cannon.

The prime minister sparked controversy in 2010 after the deaths of 30 miners at Zonguldak, saying that: “unfortunately, this profession has this in its destiny.”

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