25 detained as Turkey coal mine death toll reaches 301

18 May 2014 (Last Updated May 18th, 2014 18:30)

Twenty five mining executives from the ill-fated Soma Komur Isletmeleri mine, which collapsed last week killing 301 workers, have been detained by the Turkish police on the grounds of negligence and causing multiple deaths.

Twenty five mining executives from the ill-fated Soma Komur Isletmeleri mine, which collapsed last week killing 301 workers, have been detained by the Turkish police on the grounds of negligence and causing multiple deaths.

Among the detainees are the mine's chairman and operations manager, the general manager and the son of the company's owner.

Chief prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said: "The suspects are accused of negligent acts causing multiple deaths and injuries."

According to Sahiner, the court granted three requests for the arrests and freed two suspects, while prosecutors released four people while questioning the rest.

The names of the three suspects kept in custody have not been disclosed, but according to media reports one of them is a plant manager and two are mine engineers.

"The suspects are accused of negligent acts causing multiple deaths and injuries."

The incident has sparked nationwide protests, accusing mine owners of ignoring safety and Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan's Government for not handling the issue properly and not finding the cause of the fire in the mine.

Sahiner said an investigation showed that a power-unit explosion inside the mine did not cause the fire, as the government had initially claimed.

Sahiner added: "Early findings indicate spontaneous combustion of coal could be behind the catastrophe."

The rescue operation at the mine ended on Saturday after the last two bodies were retrieved from the site.

Meanwhile, clashes continued between police and demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara on Saturday in protest against the government's handling of the disaster.

The ruling party said the mine had been inspected 11 times in the last five years and did not have any loopholes in safety regulations.

Energy