Turkish mining operator denies any ‘negligence’ in catastrophe
A woman prays for miners during a funeral - AFP/Bulent KIlic

SOMA, Turkey: The operator of a Turkish mine where an explosion has claimed more than 280 lives said on Friday the disaster was not due to negligence on its part.

“There is no negligence on our part,” Akin Celik, the general director of Soma Komur, told reporters at a press conference. “We have all worked very hard. I have not seen such an incident in 20 years.”

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said a maximum number of 18 workers were believed to be still trapped in the mine and that the final death toll was not likely to exceed 302.

Celik said 787 people were inside the mine when fire erupted following an explosion, with 363 evacuated, 122 hospitalized, 284 confirmed dead and 18 thought to still be trapped.

Soma Komur executives declined to comment on the cause of the accident, saying it would be outlined in an expert report to be released later.

But Ramazan Dogru, the general manager of Soma Komur, denied allegations that the fire began at a transformer, saying that the accident was caused by “coal dust explosion.”

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