Sorrow and outrage over mine disaster sweeps TurkeyUpdated: 2014-05-16 22:53:41 KST
As the death toll from the worst mining accident in Turkey's history moves closer to 300, a wave of sorrow and anger is sweeping the country.
The first funerals of victims were held in a local cemetery near the accident site, as excavators were digging new graves.
The whole nation is in mourning, and the outrage against the government is growing over its indifference to poor safety conditions.
"The company calls the inspectors and they come. The mining company shuts down the shaft they work in, tells the inspectors it's not being used and that's it. Once the inspectors are gone, they reopen that shaft. They should hold inspections unannounced."
Thousands of Turkey's major trade unions have joined in a 24 hour strike, and clashes broke out in the country's third largest city of Izmir, 120 kilometers from Soma, where the ill-fated mine is located.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to break up demonstrations.
A union boss there was said to have been hospitalized.
Newly-released images are also fueling the outrage.
A photo of one of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aides kicking a protester as he's being held down by special forces police triggered a firestorm of anti-government sentiments.
Local newspapers published the pictures, citing him as a deputy chief of staff and reported that the incident began when the protester had kicked a vehicle in Erdogan's convoy on Wednesday.
The disaster has given fuel to an already outraged segment of the Turkish population upset over corruption allegations surrounding the prime minister and those closest to him.
Prime Minister Erdogan earlier tried to defend his government by pointing out that such disasters occur everywhere.
Meanwhile, Turkey's president Abdulla Gul visited Soma on Thursday and said the mine tragedy is a "sorrow for the whole Turkish nation."
Rescue efforts continue, but as the days pass, the hope for finding any survivors is gradually fading.
Kwon Soa, Arirang News.
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