Protests erupt as death toll rises in Turkish mine explosion

Grief turned to violence after protests erupted across Turkish cities as the death toll following a coal mine explosion has reportedly increased to at least 280. More than 780 people […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Grief turned to violence after protests erupted across Turkish cities as the death toll following a coal mine explosion has reportedly increased to at least 280.

More than 780 people were inside the mine when an electrical fault triggered the blast in Soma yesterday – and at least 180 miners are still believed to be trapped inside.

Anti-government protests broke out in Soma as well as Istanbul and the capital city of Ankara, with reports claiming police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse between 3,000 and 4,000 protesters in capital as well as thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul.

During a visit to the tragedy-stricken town, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan allegedly brushed off the coal blast as “ordinary”.

He has been quoted as saying: “These are ordinary things. There is a thing in literature called `work accident’… It happens in other work places too.”

A shocking image has also emerged, which shows the Prime Minister’s adviser Yusuf Yerkel allegedly kicking a protester being restrained on the ground during one of the demonstrations. Reports suggest the picture was taken in Soma and the person could be a relative of one of the dead or missing miners.

Three days of national mourning is believed to start today, with the head of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions calling on Turkish citizens to wear black.