May 13, 2014 marked a turning point of pain for hundreds of families in Soma, Turkey. On that tragic day, 301 miners lost their lives while working hundreds of meters underground. They never saw the light of day again. 432 children were left fatherless, and 301 wives and mothers were suddenly widowed. The incident was recorded in the history of the republic as a great tragedy.
The fire broke out in the mine during a shift change, and soon all underground galleries were filled with smoke. Despite the 96-hour rescue efforts, the lifeless bodies of 301 miners were found under the ground. After the disaster, the state and benefactors mobilized to aid the families left behind. Many houses were given to the families, and aid poured in to help ease the pain.
After the disaster, a lawsuit was filed against 51 people, 6 of whom were imprisoned for negligence. These included the chairman of the management and the general manager of the mining company. Despite expert reports that showed the incident was not an accident but rather the result of a chain of negligence, the company’s boss Alp Gürkan and 37 others were acquitted in the judgment hearing in 2018. Can Gürkan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, and 14 others were sentenced to prison. They were charged with “reckless killing,” not “possible intent.”
On the 9th anniversary of the disaster, a memorial service was held for the miners. The children of the miners left flowers on the graves of their fathers, whose faces they couldn’t even remember. The pain of the tragedy was once again endured by the families and friends of the miners who lost their lives.
The Soma mining disaster was a stark reminder of the risks faced by workers in dangerous industries. It also highlighted the importance of safety regulations and the need for responsible corporate practices. It is hoped that lessons learned from this incident will prevent such tragedies from happening again in the future.