110 miners were underground in the mine, which belongs to the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Corporation (TTK), when the explosion occurred. 58 miners were rescued and eleven are in hospital, some still in serious condition, according to reports. Rescue workers have found the bodies of 41 miners, with one worker is still missing.
Investigations are continuing, however early indications suggest the explosion happened because of firedamp. IndustriALL Global and Europe demand a proper investigation with trade union involvement, and that those responsible are held accountable.
The explosion puts the spotlight on the safety situation in Turkish mines. The Western Black Sea region is known as the hard coal mining basin, where there has been mining since the 19th century.
Records show that around 5,000 miners have been killed in the region during that time, with several deadly accidents over the last decade. In 2010, 30 workers were killed in Zonguldak, in 2013 eight were killed in Kozlu.
In 2014, the Turkey witnessed its worst-ever mining accident in Soma, where 301 miners perished. The accident forced the Turkish government to ratify ILO Convention 176 on mine safety and to modify domestic legislation.
But the reality in Turkish mines has changed very little. The Turkish Court of Accounts visited the mine in Amasra and identified dangers and risk in its 2019 report:
“In 2019, the balanced production depth of the establishment (mine) is minus 300 meters. This deepening causes an increase in the risks of serious accidents such as sudden gas discharge and firedamp explosion. It is known that gas contents are high in all of the worked vessels, therefore their discharge capacities are high and the risk increases even more in fault zones. For this reason, in addition to the provisions of the relevant legislation, the provisions of the "Institutional Discharge Directive" should be meticulously complied with.”
Luc Triangle, industriAll European Trade Union General Secretary, says:
“We are extremely sad and outraged with this explosion in Amasra. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and wish speedy recovery to those wounded miners. We will continue to give our support for improvement in mines in Turkey.”
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary, says:
“Just like the previous accidents, this one could have been avoided. This is a homicide, not an accident. Turkey has to do much more; it is unacceptable to witness killings in mines in 21st century. This is not the destiny of miner. Our strong solidarity is with Turkish miners.”
IndustriALL Global and European Trade Unions will conduct an emergency visit together with General Mine Workers’ Union (Genel Maden-Is), the representative union in the mine in Amasra.