Landslide in Turkey kills at least 5 miners, traps 11

At least five miners are dead and 11 are trapped after a landslide swept through a copper mine in southeastern Turkey.

The natural disaster happened late last Thursday at the Madenköy copper mine, located in the Şirvan district of Siirt province. In a statement, private company Park Elektrik A.Ş. blamed heavy rains for the landslide, and said that mining has been temporarily suspended.

Five bodies were found during an extensive search that included rescue teams from the Turkish government, the Turkish Red Crescent, the army and the company.

“At our company’s Madenköy copper mine field in the Şirvan district of Siirt, a landslide occurred due to heavy rains. Work at the crisis desk set up after the incident is ongoing. Taking into consideration the risk of another landslide in the area, production at the Madenköy copper field has been suspended. Further developments will be shared with the public,” said the statement quoted by Hurriyet Daily News. Rescue efforts are currently still underway for the 11 employees still missing, but hope is fading fast.

While the company blamed heavy rains for the disaster, which collapsed a hillside, burying the workers and their equipment, others are skeptical. They point to the construction boom over the past decade in Turkey which has caused safety standards at some companies to slide.

According to the country's state-run news agency, six people have been detained during the investigation into the mine collapse.

301 people were killed when an explosion ripped through a coal mine in western Turkey in May, 2014. The Soma disaster was the nation's worst mining accident; before that, a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak claimed the morbid title.