By Pieter Verstraete
Roarmag - May 14, 2014
The explosion that killed hundreds of coalminers in Turkey was not a random accident; it was the direct consequence of a decade of neoliberalization.
Not even two months ago you could hear Turkey’s urban middle class and youth shouting “thieves!” (hirsiz var!) at a corrupt elite in the Turkish government that illegally enriches itself. Today, as Twitterers report, we hear protesters chant “murderers!” (katiler!) in front of the Istanbul offices of Soma Holdings, the private owner of the lignite mine in Turkey’s Soma district, which just became a death trap to hundreds of coalminers.
While fellow miners, family members and other townsfolk are still digging desperately for survivors after yesterday’s explosion and fire inside the mine, riot police had their hands full washing people away with their water canons in the street where the Soma Holdings offices are located.
As I write this, Turkish news agencies officially report 274 deaths. But earlier today, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz stated that 787 people were working in the mine at the time of the explosion. It seems that there were more miners inside than usual since the explosion occurred during a change of shifts. So it is feared that more than 400 miners are still trapped underground, which runs as deep as 2 kilometres. Those trapped inside run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, so time is crucial and rescue teams are pumping oxygen into the mine.