Anger, grief swell in Turkey after 274 coal miners die; many blame prime minister
SOMA, Turkey (AP) - Amid wails of grief and anger, rescue workers coated in grime trudged repeatedly out of a coal mine Wednesday with stretchers of bodies that swelled the death toll to 274 - the worst such disaster in Turkish history.
Hopes faded for 150 others still trapped deep underground in smoldering tunnels filled with toxic gases.
Anti-government protests broke out in the mining town of Soma, as well as Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan heckled as he tried to show concern. Protesters shouted “Murderer!” and “Thief!” and Erdogan was forced to seek refuge in a supermarket, surrounded by police.
The display of anger could have significant repercussions for the Turkish leader, who is widely expected to run for president in the August election, although he has not yet announced his candidacy.
Tensions were high as hundreds of relatives and miners jostled outside the mine’s entrance Wednesday, waiting for news amid a heavy police presence. Rows of women wailed uncontrollably and men knelt sobbing or simply stared in disbelief as rescue workers removed body after body, some charred beyond recognition.
List of some of history’s worst mine disasters around the world
A list of some of history’s worst mine disasters:
-1942: China’s northeast is the site of the world’s deadliest coal mine disaster when an accident kills 1,549 miners in Japanese-occupied Manchuria during World War II.
-1906: A dust explosion in a French mine kills 1,099 workers.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO RISE IN TURKEY MINE