Turkey mine disaster: most victims suffered deadly gas poisoning

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The mine disaster in Soma has turned the world’s attention to Turkey. Euronews spoke to correspondent Bora Bayraktar who has been at the scene..

Nezahat Sevim, euronews: Bora you’ve been at the incident area all day. You’ve seen hundreds of families and relatives, clearly in pain, waiting for news about their loved ones. What’s the latest information you have?

Bora Bayraktar: “The death toll makes this the worst mine accident in Turkısh history. As news of the accident spread, families and friends rushed here to find out the fate of their loved ones and there’s been collective grieving with every corpse that’s been brought up from underground. The sight of every corpse increases the tensions and the widespread sorrow. Sadly, we haven’t heard any good news from the mine yet.”

euronews: The large scale of the tragedy means authorities have been taken by surprise and have had to create makeshift morgues. What’s the identification procedure, and how are they coping?

Bora Bayraktar: “Lots of miners died because they breathed very dense carbon monoxide. One rescue worker said that after the incident miners rushed to the gates. As they were rushing, they breathed toxic air, died immediately and collapsed in front of the gates. Thats why it’s taking so long to get the bodies out. Thats why it’s hard to open and pass through the gates. The bodies have been taken outside one by one and transported to hospitals. But of course the hospital morgues are full. And unfortunately some bodies have had to be taken to cold air storage facilities where fruit and vegetables are normally kept. As very few miners were killed by the explosion most are easily identifiable and for the others DNA tests will have to be performed to establish who they are.”

euronews: What chances are rescue officials giving of finding any more survivors in the mine?

Bora Bayraktar: “It is very unlikely because so much time has passed. Every second which passes is precious. Rescue officials have told us that there is still too much toxic gas and it’s dispersed over a very large area. That is why they are not very hopeful of finding anyone else alive. By now it would be a miracle to have good news from the mine.”

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