Turkish Coal Mine Explosion Kills Over 200

Grim details have emerged about the Soma coal mine explosion, in which 282 underground workers died in what has become Turkey's worst mine disaster.

Rescue teams revealed that 14 miners who found shelter in the only refuge chamber available had to take turns using oxygen masks because there were not enough to go round.

Hurriyet News reported that the mine, which employed 6,500 miners, had only one emergency chamber of five square metres. Alp Gurkan, head of the mine's owner Soma Holdings, claimed that there were several emergency chambers in the tunnels.

Rescue workers who entered the chamber found the bodies piled one on top of another. The victims had reportedly used the oxygen masks in turns until the air was exhausted.

Only four out of 400 Turkish mines have refuge chambers, according to a research by the Mining Engineers' Chamber.

The incident put the spotlight on the dire safety conditions of Turkish mines.

According to Turkey's Mine Workers Union, between 2000 and 2009 there were 25,655 accidents in mines run by the government agency Soma, resulting in 63 deaths and 26,324 injuries.

Public anger has been fuelled by accusations that Erdogan's ruling AK Party dismissed a parliamentary motion submitted by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) to investigate safety in the Soma mines as recently as 29 April.