Turkish families bury miners as toll rises to 283

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Turkish families bury miners as toll rises to 283
Foto: Soma'da yakınlarını kaybeden vatandaş Başbakan'ın korumaları tarafından dövüldü #BuAyıpSizeYeter http://t.co/THq5FtNtnk
A miner cries as rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner from the mine in Soma, western 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/Emrah Gurel)
A woman reacts after she have seen the dead body of a relative miner outside the mine in Soma, western Turkey, early Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Rescuers desperately raced against time to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 200 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 in Soma, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul, at the time of the accident and 363 of them had been rescued so far. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Family members, react, as they wait outside the mine in Soma, western Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Rescuers desperately raced against time to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 200 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 in Soma, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul, at the time of the accident and 363 of them had been rescued so far. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
A woman reacts after being told her brother died on May 14, 2014 following an explosion and fire in a coal mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa killed at least 201 people and hundreds remain trapped underground. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 14: A miner is evacuated from the fire at a coal mine in the Soma district of Manisa, Turkey on May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire in the western Turkish province of Manisa followed an electrical fault on Tuesday afternoon, on May 13, 2014 killed at least 205 miners and injured many others. The deaths of 205 miners in a fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday could be the worst mining disaster in the country's history, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday. (Photo by Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man kisses his son, rescued of the mine, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa. At least 157 miners were killed in collapsed coal mine in the western Turkish city of Manisa. 'At least 200-300 workers were working in the mine when an electric fault caused an explosion,' the mayor of Soma, a district of Manisa, told private NTV television. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Medics help a rescued miner after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Family members gather near the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Family members cry as they wait outside a hospital hours after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo)
Medics, ambulances and relatives at the entrance of the mine hours after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, late Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Medics help a rescued miner after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Family members cry as they wait outside a hospital hours after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The death toll was expected to rise.(AP Photo)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 14: Relatives of the miners wait as search and rescue operations keep going on following the fire in a coal mine in the Soma district of Manisa, Turkey on May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire in the western Turkish province of Manisa followed an electrical fault on Tuesday afternoon, on May 13, 2014 killed at least 205 miners and injured many others. The deaths of 205 miners in a fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday could be the worst mining disaster in the country's history, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday. (Photo by Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An injured miner came out carried by rescuers, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa. At least 157 miners were killed in collapsed coal mine in the western Turkish city of Manisa. 'At least 200-300 workers were working in the mine when an electric fault caused an explosion,' the mayor of Soma, a district of Manisa, told private NTV television. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured miner came out carried by rescuers, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa. At least 157 miners were killed in collapsed coal mine in the western Turkish city of Manisa. 'At least 200-300 workers were working in the mine when an electric fault caused an explosion,' the mayor of Soma, a district of Manisa, told private NTV television. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: At least 3 miners died in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. Search and rescue operations keep going on in the mine. (Photo by Ahmet Bayram/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: At least 3 miners died in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. Search and rescue operations keep going on in the mine. (Photo by Ahmet Bayram/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: At least 3 miners died in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. A relative of a miner prays as search and rescue operations keep going on in the mine. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: At least 3 miners died in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. Search and rescue operations keep going on in the mine. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: At least 3 miners died in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. Search and rescue operations keep going on in the mine. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives try to get information outside a local hospital after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Miners are being rescued as a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Soner Ovumlu - Anadolu Agency)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Families of the miners wait outside the mine, in tears, as search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: A miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Ahmet Bayram/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: A miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Ahmet Bayram/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Families of the miners wait outside the mine as search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: A miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Soner Ovumlu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz makes a press statement on the mine fire in Soma, Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby. (Photo by Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 13: Search and rescue operations keep going on in a mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa where a miner has died and more than 200 miners have been trapped inside following a malfunction at an electrical transformer nearby late on May 13, 2014. (Photo by Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 14: Relatives of the miners killed in the coal mine fire in Soma, wait outside a cold storage house where dead bodies of victims were borught for identification in Kiragac district of Manisa, Turkey on May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire in the western Turkish province of Manisa followed an electrical fault on Tuesday afternoon, on May 13, 2014 killed at least 205 miners and injured many others. The deaths of 205 miners in a fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday could be the worst mining disaster in the country's history, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday. (Photo by Soner Kilinc/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 14: Search and rescue operations keep going on following the fire in a coal mine in the Soma district of Manisa, Turkey on May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire in the western Turkish province of Manisa followed an electrical fault on Tuesday afternoon, on May 13, 2014 killed at least 205 miners and injured many others. The deaths of 205 miners in a fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday could be the worst mining disaster in the country's history, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday. (Photo by Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MANISA, TURKEY - MAY 14: A miner is helped by rescue workers and friends from the coal mine on May 14, 2014 in Soma, Manisa, Turkey. An explosion and fire in the coal mine killed at least 205 miners and trapped hundreds more. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 workers had been in the mine when the blast occurred. Turkey has declared three days of mourning over the catastrophe. (Photo by Ozgu Ozdemir/Getty Images)
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SOMA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish women sang improvised laments about the departed over freshly dug graves Thursday, even as backhoes carved row upon row of graves into the dirt and hearses lined up outside the cemetery with more victims of Turkey's worst mining disaster.

Rescue teams recovered another nine victims, raising the death toll to 283, with scores of people still unaccounted for, according to government figures. The disaster Tuesday has set off protests around Turkey and thrown Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's presidential ambitions off stride. Blackening his reputation further, one of Erdogan's aides was seen kicking a protester held on the ground by armed police.

At a graveyard in the western town of Soma, where coal mining has been the main industry for decades, women wailed loudly in an improvised display of mourning. They swayed and sang songs about their relatives as the bodies were taken from coffins and lowered into their graves. Pictures of the lost relatives were pinned onto their clothing.

"The love of my life is gone," some sang, chanting the names of dead miners.

No miner has been brought out alive since dawn Wednesday from the Soma coal mine where the explosion and fire took place. Mourners said they spent their whole lives fearing something like this.

"The wives of the miners kiss their husbands in the morning. When they come back, even if they are five minutes late, everyone starts calling. You never know what is going to happen," said Gulizar Donmez, 45, the daughter and wife of a miner and neighbor of one of the victims.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the search for survivors has been hampered by a mine fire that had spread to a conveyor system - engulfing a 200 meter-long (650-foot) stretch - but progress was made Thursday on extinguishing it. Rescue operations have been suspended several times as burning coal inside created toxic fumes and too-risky conditions for the rescue teams.

Emergency crews detected a drop in carbon monoxide levels "which means that the fire has gotten smaller," he said.

Erdogan, who is expected to soon announce his candidacy for Turkey's presidential election in August, was not welcome during his visit Wednesday. He was forced to take refuge at a supermarket after angry crowds called him a murderer and a thief, in a reference to alleged corruption, and clashed with police.

Turkish newspapers printed photographs Thursday of an Erdogan aide kicking a protester who was being held on the ground by special forces police. The aide, Yusuf Yerkel, issued a statement Thursday that expressed regret but also claimed he was provoked.

"I am sorry that I was not able to keep calm despite all the provocations, insults and attacks that I was subjected to," he said.

Erdogan had appeared somewhat tone-deaf to residents' grief Wednesday, calling mining accidents "ordinary things" that occur in many other countries.

In contrast, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, visiting Soma on Thursday, described the coal mine explosion as "a huge disaster."

"The pain is felt by us all," he said.

The mood was more restrained than during Erdogan's visit, though locals angry at what they saw as the slow rescue operation still shouted at him, demanding that more should be done to reach possible survivors.

Erdogan has made no secret of his desire to become Turkey's first popularly elected president. His party swept local elections in March despite a corruption scandal that forced him to dismiss four government ministers in December and later also implicated him and family members. Erdogan denies corruption, calling the allegations part of a plot to bring his government down.

Protests broke out in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities Wednesday over the deaths and poor safety conditions at mines around the country. In Istanbul and Izmir, authorities used water cannons and tear gas to break up the protests.

Turkey's largest trade union confederation, representing some 800,000 workers, joined a one-day strike Thursday by other unions to demand better conditions for workers. Miners in Zonguldak gathering in front of a pit Thursday but did not enter it. In Istanbul, a group chanted anti-government slogans and carried a large banner that read: "It's not an accident, it's murder."

Authorities said the disaster followed an explosion and a fire at a power distribution unit, and most deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

The government has said 787 people were inside the coal mine at the time of Tuesday's explosion, and that 383 were rescued, many with injuries. Tuesday's explosion tore through the mine as workers were preparing for a shift change, which likely raised the casualty toll.

The death toll made it Turkey's worst mining accident, topping a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

Erdogan promised that Tuesday's tragedy would be investigated to its "smallest detail" and that "no negligence will be ignored." Hurriyet newspaper reported that a team of 15 prosecutors has been assigned to investigate the Soma explosion.

Turkey's Labor and Social Security Ministry said the mine had been inspected five times since 2012, most recently in March, when no safety violations were detected. But the country's opposition party said Erdogan's ruling party had voted down a proposal to hold a parliamentary inquiry into several smaller accidents at the mines around Soma.
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