Thousands of workers and labour unions have carried out protest strikes to demonstrate their anger over the coal mine explosion in Turkey, as families have begun to bury 283 bodies recovered from the mine.
With 142 people still missing and trapped in the pit, hopes of their survival are gradually waning, however, rescuers are still trying to reach the deeper parts of the coal mine in Soma.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was quoted by The Guardian as saying that a fire inside the mine was dying down, raising hopes that rescuers could soon speed-up the search for the missing.
The mining disaster has triggered a nationwide strike and anger across the country, as furious residents tried to attack Turkey Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on his visit to the town.
Turkey President Abdullah Gül, who was also heckled by the crowed, said that Tuesday’s explosion was a huge disaster and that the pain is felt by all.
Protests over the mining deaths were also reported in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Zonguldak and Izmir, where police forces hurled tear gas and fired water cannons against 20,000 protestors. Meanwhile, various trade unions held a one-day strike in Turkey over safety standards in the mining industry.
The government previously reported that around 787 workers were in the mine when the blast occurred; 383 people have been rescued, many of whom were injured.
The incident is thought to be Turkey’s worst mining accident since the 1992 gas explosion in a mine in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, which resulted in 263 deaths.