Turkey mine disaster: 18 arrested over Soma deaths

Police investigating the coal mine disaster in western Turkey have arrested 18 people, including mining company executives, Turkish media say.

The rescue operation at the mine, in the town of Soma, ended on Saturday after the bodies of the last two workers were recovered.

The final death toll is 301, making it Turkey’s worst mining disaster.

Protests against the government and mining company have broken out since Tuesday’s disaster.

Soma Holding insists it was not caused by negligence.

Those arrested on Sunday included Ramazan Dogru, general manager of the mine, and its operations manager Akin Celik, Turkey’s Dogan news agency said.

Tuesday’s disaster occurred when an explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine’s tunnels while 787 miners were underground.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for appearing insensitive in his reaction to the disaster.

Both Mr Erdogan and his aide Yusuf Yerkel have come under pressure after photos that appeared to show them assaulting protesters were published in Turkish media.

A heavy police presence descended on Soma on Saturday, setting up checkpoints and detaining dozens of people to enforce a ban on protests.

Security in the town remained tight on Sunday, Reuters news agency says.