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Police have arrested at least a dozen suspects in connection with Turkey's coal mining disaster that killed hundreds last week.
Officials say the mine collapsed Tuesday in the city of Soma — trapping nearly 800 miners underground. An investigation into the causes of the disaster is still underway, but an official death toll stands at 301. (Via Sky News)
The incident has sparked countrywide protests over what many believe to be a decline in working conditions since the once state-run mines became privatized. (Via Euronews)
The exact number of the suspects in custody is still unclear — but according to Turkish media, high-ranking officials of the company operating the mine, Soma Holding, are among those detained on charges of negligence.
According to Sky News, preliminary reports suggest many safety violations, such as lack of carbon monoxide detectors and inadequate support beams, could have contributed to the incident.
The Hurriyet Daily News reports mine technicians even reported the poor state of electrical cables to supervisors just two weeks before the incident.
But mine owners insist it was an accident and have rejected all claims of negligence in what might be the country's worst-ever mining tragedy.
In a news conference, representatives from the company blame the collapse of the mine on an unexplained buildup of heat. They also disputed previous reports claiming a fire erupted from a malfunctioning transformer. (Via BBC)
But BBC points out Turkey's grim mining history: 13,000 miners were involved in workplace accidents in Turkey last year — making up more than 10 percent of all work-related accidents.
According to CNN, as many as 100 mines closed within the last three years due to a lack of safety inspections. Other mines have been criticized for a lack of ventilation and outdated safety equipment.
Many Turkish citizens are outraged over the tragedy and at the lack of responsibility taken by Soma Holding. Government officials hope to put in place new mining regulations once the investigation has been completed.