KUNM

Mine Disaster Has Ramifications For Turkey's Prime Minister

May 16, 2014
Originally published on May 16, 2014 10:07 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, let's go to Turkey now, where the government says at least 284 people are dead and another 18 still missing in a mining accident. Earlier this week, an explosion in a mine set off a fire and trapped hundreds of miners underground. Hope for more survivors is running out, and the anger toward Turkey's government is growing. NPR's Leila Fadel spent the day in the mining town of Soma.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRYING AND LOUDSPEAKER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MAN AND WOMAN ARGUING)

: Another man shushes her. I'm the one burying someone today, he says, and you're talking about politics. The exchange is a window into the political ramifications for the prime minister who is expected to make a run for the presidency in August. Away from the graveyard and the talk of politics, a mix of palpable sadness and quiet anticipation filled the crowd watching the continuing search and rescue operations at the entrance of the mine.

A group of women wait behind the police barricades. Among them is one who repeats, God willing, he's alive. God willing, he's alive, as a policeman comforts her. She's waiting for news of her missing son. She's too upset to give her name. Soon, another body is pulled from the mine. The ambulance pulls up and paramedics load the body into the vehicle. Hope is running out here.

Do you think anyone is alive down there?

HAKAN IYKUL: No. Impossible. Impossible.

: Hakan Iykul is with the search and rescue teams and is a mining engineer. He's about to take a break after 38 hours of nonstop work. But for more than a day, he's only found dead men inside the mine. He believes accidents like these are avoidable.

IYKUL: It's not right. There is very, very big, big problem. We have to accept this. If you don't accept this, we don't need these accidents again and again and again and again.

: He hasn't told family members waiting outside the mine what he really believes, that their missing loved ones are gone. Leila Fadel, NPR News.

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INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.