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Dozens arrested, probed over mining disaster

Published:Monday | May 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Riot police detain protesters as they use water cannons and teargas to disperse people who were protesting the Soma mine accident that killed 301 miners, in Istanbul, Turkey, on the weekend.
Riot police detain protesters as they use water cannons and teargas to disperse people who were protesting the Soma mine accident that killed 301 miners, in Istanbul, Turkey, on the weekend.
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ISTANBUL (AP):

Two dozen people, including company executives, have been detained as Turkish officials investigate the mining disaster that killed 301 people, a domestic news agency reported yesterday.

The Dogan news agency said Ramazan Dogru, general manager of the mine owned by Soma Holding, and its operations manager, Akin Celik, were among the 24 detained. It said prosecutors were weighing charges of negligence and contributing to the deaths of more than one person. They questioned five people yesterday, but Dogan did not specify whom.

Government and company officials have insisted that the mine was inspected regularly and negligence wasn't a factor in Tuesday's tragedy. But reacting to widespread public anger, government officials promised to investigate and pledged that any mine officials found to be negligent would be punished.

Smouldering coal

The Milliyet newspaper reported on the weekend that a preliminary report by a mine safety expert, who inspected the Soma mine, suggested that smouldering coal caused the mine's roof to collapse. The report said the tunnel's support beams were made of wood, not metal, and the mine had too few carbon monoxide sensors.

Company officials have described safety standards as high, noting that the mine contained 50 gas sensors and employees were provided with gas masks.