ANKARA, May 14. /ITAR-TASS/. The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Turkey’s Soma has launched an investigation into the mine explosion and subsequent rock collapse that killed at least 205 workers on May 13. Local media reported that investigators will look into, among other things, whether the people were legally employed at the mine.
The rescue operation in the Manisa province has been underway for the last 18 hours. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that 363 people have been evacuated to the surface, 57 of them hospitalized with gas poisoning. When the explosion struck, a total 787 people were in the pits.
The mining company said that galleries and equipment were subject to constant and strict control, and no violations of safety norms were found. Investigators will determine the cause of the accident.
Turkey’s government has declared three days of mourning for victims of the mine explosion. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled all domestic and foreign trips planned for the week. President Abdullah Gul cancelled his visit to China. Turkey’s Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek also cancleleld his trip to the United States. The authorities are arriving to the site of the accident to control how the rescue operation proceeds.