World Bulletin/News Desk
Rescue efforts continue on the third day in which 18 workers remain trapped in a flooded mine in the central Turkish province of Karaman.
"Mine accidents are hurting us a lot. We hope to reach the trapped miners as soon as possible, our prayers are with them," Turkey's EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said in a press conference on Thursday.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan remain on the spot to monitor the situation.
Instead of placing blame for the mine accidents, Turkey should put an effort "all together" to prevent the disasters from happening, Bozkir said.
Bozkir said there is no "abnormality" with Turkish legislation on mine working conditions, and that it is harmonized with EU standards.
Turkey passed the Occupational Health and Safety bill in 2012 and launched regulation of Health and Safety in Workplaces in 2013 as part of the EU "acquis," or harmonized leglslation.
"But the change should be in minds," Bozkir said. "The most important aspect about this is education."
Along with social actors, political actors also have a great responsibility on this issue, Bozkir explained.
"Political actors are supposed to ratify bills and control their implementation," he said.
Search-and-rescue teams have deployed a sophisticated “octopus system” to pump out water from a flooded mine in central Turkey’s Karaman province to save 18 trapped miners, Turkey’s main disaster management authority said Wednesday.
The miners got trapped Tuesday when a water pipe inside a private lignite mine exploded near the Ermenek town in Karaman province, around 400 kilometers south of Ankara. Earlier reports suggested there were at least 40 miners trapped inside, but latest figures reveal there were in total 34 miners, out of whom 18 remain stuck.
Turkey's Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said the “octopus” system can pump out 8,500 liters of water in a minute. Moreover, it has the capacity to draw water from a depth of 60 meters.
Earlier, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said divers had been stopped from risking their lives in attempts to save the trapped miners in the collapsed mine. Yildiz had also spoken about a second pump being used at the site, which although had helped in bringing the water levels down, it was not as fast as rescue teams desired.
The addition of the “octopus” is now expected to change the pace of rescue mission.
The disaster management authority had said earlier that a 225-person team was on site for the search-and-rescue mission.
"Two aircraft, 20 ambulances and eight AFAD rescue vehicles continue their search-and-rescue efforts. One mobile base station has been set up at the scene and adequate food packets have also been delivered," it said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also reached the accident site Wednesday evening to monitor the situation.
"Mines must be modernized rapidly"
Davutoglu has said if negligence is deemed to have led to the mine-flooding disaster in central Turkey, those responsible will be held to account.
The Turkish Prime Minister said in a press conference at the scene of the incident: "Once the mine will be discharged from the water, the real causes of the accident will be revealed."
He said he had met relatives of the trapped miners and he shared their "pain, sadness and sorrow".
“Unfortunately, in many of our mines, because of the continuous work, it is understood that the technological infrastructure has failed to be provided."
He said Turkish mines must be modernized rapidly, beginning with technological innovation.
Davutoglu said that a search team was facing difficulties advancing into the mine because of the amount of water, but were doing all they could.
The incident in Karaman mine comes just five-and-a-half months after an explosion at a coal mine in Soma, Manisa, western Turkey, caused the worst mine disaster in the country’s history, killing 301 miners.
Last Mod: 30 Ekim 2014, 13:15