Anger, grief swell in Turkey after 274 coal miners die; Many blame PM Erdogan and his govt

SOMA, Turkey (AP) — High gas concentrations have brought rescue operations to a halt inside a coal mine in western Turkey following a deadly explosion and fire.

So far, the bodies of 274 miners have been recovered. The fate of another 150 remains unclear.

Teams are trying to vent carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from the mine and pump clean air in.

Tuesday’s disaster has generated anger and despair in the town of Soma, about 150 miles south of Istanbul. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) traveled to the town to show concern today, but didn’t help his reputation when he noted that workplace accidents are “ordinary things” that happen in many countries. He was heckled and forced to seek refuge in a supermarket, surrounded by police.

Anti-government protests also erupted in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

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188-a-11-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-“time of tragedy”-White House press secretary Jay Carney says Americans are grieving with their Turkish allies. (14 May 2014)

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187-a-09-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-“the remaining miners”-White House press secretary Jay Carney says the American people’s hearts are going out to Turkey because of the mine disaster. (14 May 2014)

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185-r-14-(Sound of hundreds of protestors jeering and kicking vehicle of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn), near mine entrance in Soma, Turkey)–Sound of hundreds of protestors jeering Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his car is jostled, kicked and slowed to a near stop during a visit to Soma, site of a deadly mine explosion. COURTESY: Turkish Anadolu News Agency ((mandatory on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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186-r-13-(Sound of crowd booing and jeering, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) walks with a security entourage)–Sound of crowd booing, jeering and chanting “Resign!” as the Turkish prime minister walks with a security entourage near the site of the deadly mine accident. COURTESY: Turkish Anadolu News Agency ((mandatory on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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154-a-12-(Sally Leivesley (LEEVS’-lee), catastrophic and extreme risk consultant, in interview)-“be looked at”-Sally Leivesley, a risk assessment consultant, says the coal being mined in Soma is a dirty and risky substance requiring significant safety measures that may not have been in place in the Turkish mine. COURTESY: Sky News ((mandatory on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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156-a-14-(Sally Leivesley (LEEVS’-lee), catastrophic and extreme risk consultant, in interview)-“to be investigated”-Sally Leivesley, a risk assessment consultant, says a modern mining operation should have been able to curb the number of casualties. COURTESY: Sky News ((mandatory on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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157-a-11-(Sally Leivesley (LEEVS’-lee), catastrophic and extreme risk consultant, in interview)-“an oxygenated environment”-Sally Leivesley, a risk assessment consultant, says officials must now be making minute-by-minute appraisals of conditions to decide whether it’s worth risking rescuers’ lives for miners who may not be alive. COURTESY: Sky News ((on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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141-a-15-(Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn), speaking through interpreter, in speech declaring three days of mourning in Turkey)-“of the debris”-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks everyone to pray for the victims and their families. COURTESY: Sky News ((mandatory on-air credit)) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK170: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center right, is surrounded by security members as he visits the coal mine in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire at the coal mine killed at least 232 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine at the time of the accident. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK187: Riot police try to stop protesters who were attacking the offices of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, in Soma, Turkey, during his visit to the coal mine in Soma Wednesday, May 14, 2014. A violent protest erupted Wednesday in the Turkish city of Soma, where at least 238 coal miners have died after a mine explosion as many in the crowd expressed anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, rocks were thrown and some people were shouting that Erdogan was a “Murderer!” and a “Thief!”(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK192: The rows of open tenantless graves are prepared for the mine accident victims in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Nearly 450 miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear as bodies are still being brought to the surface and burials are underway after one of the world’s deadliest mining disasters. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK212: In this photo released by the Turkish Prime Minister’s Press Office, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is surrounded by security members as he visits the coal mine in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Nearly 450 miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear as bodies are still being brought to the surface and burials are underway after one of the world’s deadliest mining disasters. (AP Photo/Kayhan Ozer, Turkish Prime Minister’s Press Office, HO) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK206: People attend a mine accident victim’s burial in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Nearly 450 miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear as bodies are still being brought to the surface and burials are underway after one of the world’s deadliest mining disasters. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul) (14 May 2014)

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APPHOTO ANK202: People attend a mine accident victim’s burial in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Nearly 450 miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear as bodies are still being brought to the surface and burials are underway after one of the world’s deadliest mining disasters. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul) (14 May 2014)

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