Turkey Mine Soma
A protester fires firecrackers at riot police during a demonstration blaming the ruling AK Party (AKP) government for the mining disaster in western Turkey, in Ankara.Reuters

The operator of the Turkish mine that collapsed after an explosion in the western town of Soma, killing approximately 282 people, has denied any negligence.

Representatives of Soma Holding defended their response to the mining disaster in a press conference, stating that their priority had only been to save lives.

"We still do not know how the accident happened. There is no negligence of ours in this incident," said plant manager Akin Celik.

"We have all worked very hard. I have not seen such an incident in 20 years," he added.

The mine, which employed 6,500 people, had only one emergency chamber spanning just 5 sq m, according to Hurriyet News.

At least 100 miners are thought to be still trapped deep in the pit, 2km below the ground.

The incident is Turkey's worst-ever mining disaster and protests have erupted across the country against the government's closeness with mining tycoons, and their collective failure to ensure greater safety standards.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to take refuge in a shop on his visit to Soma with chants of "Murderer" and "Thief" erupting around him along with demands that he resign.

The explosion has placed the spotlight on Turkey's poor safety record in the mining industry, with only four out of 400 Turkish mines holding refuge chambers, according to the Mining Engineers' Chamber.

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.