Methane in Turkey mine was below critical level — Erdogan

(Photo: AFP)

ANKARA  — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that the methane level in a mine in northwest Turkey was below the critical threshold before an explosion killed 41 people last week.اضافة اعلان

The blast ripped through the mine near the small coal town of Amasra on Turkey’s Black Sea coast shortly before sunset on Friday.

“According to measurements before the accident, the current was cut in the mine because of a methane level that reached 1.5 percent at 6:05pm”, or 10 minutes before the explosion, Erdogan told MPs belonging to his AKP Party.

“For methane to explode, its level in the air must reach at least 5 percent,” Erdogan said.

“We do not know yet how the explosion could have occurred despite all the precautions taken,” the president said. Erdogan visited the site of the disaster on Saturday.

Under Turkish law, mines are supposed to evacuate workers when the level of methane in the air reaches 2 percent in the tunnels.

Relatives of the dead told AFP and Turkish media that miners had complained of the smell of gas in the mine for about 10 days before the explosion.

“Everything that can be said will be speculation until we have a definitive accident report,” the head of state said.

Opposition outcry

The opposition has accused the government of failing to take the necessary measures to prevent the disaster.

“Mine accidents can happen anywhere in the world,” Erdogan said, alluding to an accident where 1,099 people had died in France. He did not specify that the Courrieres disaster happened in 1906.

“What century are we in?” opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu asked Saturday. “Why are mining accidents always happening in Turkey?”

Turkey suffered its deadliest coal mining disaster in 2014 when 301 workers died in a blast and ensuing fire that brought down a mining shaft in the western town of Soma.

Five mine managers were found guilty of negligence and handed jail terms of up to 22 years.

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Accounts said in its reports in 2019 and 2020 that there were irregularities in the Amasra mine, according to Turkish media.

Erdogan vowed Saturday that “nobody will be spared” if the accident report determines who is responsible.

But he also repeated his conviction that such accidents were a result of fate.

“If there are guilty people, they will be punished. But in doing this, we submit to fate, to the will of God. It’s indispensable for Muslims,” he said.

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