Two miners die in separate work-related accidents over weekend

Two miners died in separate work-related mining accidents in the provinces of Osmaniye and Zonguldak over the weekend.

Cumali Kandaş (41) was found dead after a collapse occurred in the Göktürk chrome mine, located in the village of Akyar in the Mediterranean province of Osmaniye. Ahmet Bilgin (25) was injured in the disaster on Saturday. The mine had opened 17 days ago, and Kandaş had worked there for 15 days, according to news reports. The 41-year-old had previously been laid off and had taken up work at the mine in order to complete the necessary hours required to qualify for retirement. Kandaş, a father of five, had three years left before he would be able to qualify for retirement benefits, reports said.

On Sunday, 29-year-old Volkan Kurtoğlu died in an accident in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, which took place soon after Kurtoğlu and his friend, Tolga B., entered the coal mine on Saturday night. At about 1 a.m. on Sunday, Kurtoğlu became trapped under rubble after a collapse while Tolga B. survived.

Kurtoğlu’s body was retrieved by rescue teams from Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises (TTK). His body was sent to Zonguldak Atatürk State Hospital for an autopsy and the police have launched an investigation into the incident, detaining Tolga B. for questioning.

Turkey has garnered international attention for a spate of fatal mining accidents in the last few years.

On May 13, the deadliest mining disaster in Turkey’s history claimed the lives of 301 miners in Soma, a town in Manisa province. Another fatal mining accident took place in Ermenek, a town in Karaman province, on Oct. 28. A total of 18 miners were killed in the incident.

Workplace accidents are a frequent occurrence in Turkey. Around 1,600 people died in work-related accidents in the first 10 months of 2014. The highest number of work-related deaths since January of this year occurred in the mining sector. The construction sector, which is touted as the primary factor behind Turkey’s economic growth, has also been plagued by a string of deadly accidents this year. Workers in both sectors earn relatively low wages and often work in adverse conditions. They also employ a large number of subcontracted workers who do not receive insurance or other benefits guaranteed to employees. Moreover, these workers are often improperly trained or under-qualified.

Turkey has the highest number of work-related deaths in Europe with 14,455 over the last 12 years.

The lack of safety regulations in Turkey’s workplaces has also been the subject of European Union progress reports. Last week, Turkey finally ratified the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention concerning safety and health in mines. The convention has been in effect since 1998 and Turkey had faced serious criticism for opting not to sign it, particularly in the wake of the Soma disaster.


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