Soma is a town in mourning. Everyone here knows what mineworking means, as lignite is the only resource in this poor region in west Anatolia some 100 kilometres from Izmyr. Out of the population of nearly 100,000, thousands are miners. In contrast to most of Turkey’s other mines, which are open-cast, here the riches lie deep underground.
Euronews went to the headquarters of the Soma Miners Association where sorrow fills the air. Men exchange handshakes and their brows meet in greeting. Everyone looks grim.
Saban Üfük, a former miner, founded the association, and spoke to us about his member’s lives.
“This is a sad event. The miners work in very difficult conditions, really tough. I’m sure you’ve seen their faces coming out. Conditions underground haven’t changed for years. Men go down with two or three changes of clothes, and when they wring them dry, coal runs out.
They don’t earn what they deserve. An average miner earns around 400 euros a month, of which 100 goes on rent, so if they have children at school it’s impossible for them to live decently,” he says.
Saban wants to comfort the widows and orphans of the men who died. Solidarity in the mining community is a tradition in Turkey just like everywhere else around the world.
“They will not remain alone, without a family. We are their big brothers, their fathers. We will visit them we will send our families to lend support and bring them all sorts of aid. A salary will be granted to them by the state. I think each family will get around 33,000 euros, and in general the mining company usually offers them a flat,” says Saban.
As a sign of their mourning those still alive pin photos of the dead over their hearts.