Posted at: 05/16/2014 10:08 AM
Photo: AP Photo/Depo Photos, file
SOMA, Turkey (AP) - In the aftermath of a deadly explosion and fire in a Turkish coal mine, the mining company and Turkish officials are on the defensive.
At least 284 miners were killed. The country's energy minister says 18 others remain missing -- tamping down earlier fears that more than 100 victims were still in the mine.
The disaster has set off protests and public outrage at allegedly poor safety conditions at Turkish coal mines, and what some perceived as government indifference. One banner held by workers who marched through Istanbul yesterday read, "It's not an accident, it's murder."
But the owner of the mine where the disaster occurred is defending its safety record. He says he had spent his own money improving standards at the mine. And he says he hopes to continue operations at the mine after correcting any problems found by investigators.
Senior Turkish officials, meanwhile, are denying allegations of lax government oversight. A deputy leader of the ruling party says there are no problems with inspections and supervision of mines -- and that this mine was "vigorously" inspected 11 times in the past five years.
Turkey's energy minister says anyone who's found to have been negligent about safety at the mine will be punished.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)