Inspections at the Soma mine, at which at least 284 miners died in Turkey’s worst labor disaster on May 13, were superficial at best, according to a worker who survived the tragedy.
“The machines were whistling for two years. I knew the reason. They were digging areas that had methane where they should not have dug,” the worker said during an interview with private broadcaster Halk TV.
A report by the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) in 2010 had warned that the Soma basin contained a high level of methane, which made the mine intolerant to any mistakes.
The survivor also said the inspection regarding the digging activities were not sufficiently thorough. “Inspectors came, but they only reviewed the main tunnels. They didn’t look at the details,” he said.
Another survivor of the disaster told daily Milliyet that the sole, insufficient refuge chamber was too far away to be of any use.
“The probability of getting poisoned before getting to the refuge chamber was high. We did not know the density of the gas there either. So we could have got there with oxygen masks, but that was risky,” he said.
According to an account from rescuers, 14 miners who took shelter in the five-square-meter refuge chamber perished after sharing the few available oxygen masks.
“We decided to build our own refuge chamber at the area where we were working. But I only saw just one refuge chamber in the mine,” he said.
During a press conference on May 16, the company admitted that there was no proper refuge chamber in the mine, but claimed preparations were underway to build such chambers when the accident occurred.