Turkish police detain 24 in coal mine disaster probe

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Turkish authorities detained at least 24 people today in connection with Tuesday\’s deadly mining disaster, including mining company executives and employees.
Rescue operations ended Saturday after the bodies of the last two workers were retrieved, bringing the number of deaths to 301.
The disaster occurred last Tuesday after a small explosion sparked a fire at the coal mine in the town of Soma.  Nearly 800 miners were underground at the time of the blast.  Many of those killed are believed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and suffocation.
The accident has triggered protests across Turkey aimed at the government and the mine owners who they say neglected safety.
Mine operator Soma Komur has denied any claim of negligence.
On Friday, an official with the company admitted the mine’s only safety chamber had been removed.
The chamber was equipped with its own oxygen supply and designed to hold as many as 500 miners providing refuge in the case of a disaster.  The mine owner said at the time of the accident a new chamber was under construction, but that legally there was no requirement to have one.
On Saturday, hundreds of people marched through the western city of Izmir and there were protests in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.
In Soma local authorities have banned demonstrations. Police have set up checkpoints and detained dozens of people on Saturday.
The ban followed clashes there on Friday, when riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon when a protest briefly turned violent.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for appearing insensitive in his reaction to the disaster.
Both Mr Erdogan and his aide Yusuf Yerkel have come under pressure after photos appearing to show them assaulting protesters were published in Turkish media.
After the last two bodies were brought to the surface on Saturday, authorities sealed the mine entrance with bricks.
Source: Agencies

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