Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visits Soma after the coal mine explosionReuters

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey was strong enough to help both "Soma and Somalia", replying to those who criticised his government over the handling of the coal mine disaster in which 301 people lost their lives.

Turkish police arrested 25 people in the aftermath of the the country's worst mining disaster, including general manager Ramazan Dogru and the mine's operations manager Akin Celik.

Erdogan has been criticised for his remarks after the explosion, when he said that those kind of accidents were "normal". He was forced to take refuge in a shop in Soma after furious relatives besieged him.

In his latest statement, Erdogan said: "Some told us to leave Somalia and look at Soma. We instantly went to Soma and tended to its wounds, and we are still doing so".

"We are living with an indescribable pain as a nation. Let God not let any country experience such a pain," he said. "We have extended our hands to Soma with God's mercy and we are powerful enough to reach out to Somalia."

The disaster happened when an explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine's tunnels while 787 were underground. Soma Holding, the owner of the mine, said it was not caused by negligence.

Hundreds of people rallied in the western city of Izmir. However the authorities have banned demonstrations in Soma.