Turkish mine disaster death toll climbs as protests erupt

A STREAM of ambulances continued to bring the dead from the Turkey's Soma mine. The bodies are carried 2km from inside the mine by a stream of volunteers - many of who are miners themselves.

As many as 787 miners were in the mine at the time of  this week's explosion, which is thought to have been caused by faulty electrical transformers.

While the official death toll rose to 274, families and rescuers at the mouth of the mine are now expecting only more bodies to be recovered as the country started on three days of mourning.

Even as the bodies were still being recovered, violent protests erupted in Soma, where rocks were thrown at police.

At the local state hospital officers guarded wards were injured miners were being treated.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Soma Holding, the company that owns the mine.

In Ankara, the capital, police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse a crowd who had gathered to march to the energy ministry, throwing fire bombs at the gathered police.

Miner Cengiz Kulayci's face was blackened by coal dust as he took a break. He had entered the mine three times to rescue his colleagues.

"We only found three people alive," he said.

"They had to be carried out and were barely conscious. The others were all dead."

Turkey has been hit by mining disasters in the past, notable in 1992 when 263 men died at an accident nearby. But this tragedy has hit a new community and a new generation of miners. "I lost six friends," said a young miner, his eyes trained on the rescue team 30 metres away.

More on this story at The Independent

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