ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court ordered the formal arrest of eight people in relation to an explosion in a coal mine that killed 41 people in October, state-owned Anadolu news agency said late on Monday.
Among those jailed pending trial were the manager and the deputy manager of the mine, owned by the state’s Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises (TTK), as well as other officials at the facility.
The suspects were accused of causing the death and injury of multiple people with intentional negligence, Anadolu said.
TTK declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
A further 16 other suspects were released from police custody, it reported.
A 25th suspect was in Istanbul, accompanying a mine worker who was injured, and was not taken into police custody.
The blast in the coal mine in northern Turkey’s Amasra province was the deadliest mining accident since a fire at a mine in Soma, in western Turkey, that killed 301 people in 2014.
The blast was believed to have been caused by firedamp, a term referring to methane in coal mines.
Critics of the government questioned the safety protocols after the explosion, with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) saying that a state audit authority had warned of risks at the Amasra mine in 2019.
The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, said inspections were not carried out adequately partly because staff numbers had been reduced, cutting qualified personnel.