The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has expressed shock and sadness regarding the death of 245 coal mine workers in Turkey, it said in a statement on Wednesday. 120 workers are still thought to be trapped following Tuesday’s explosion, caused by an electrical fault.

“We pray for those workers who are still trapped underground to come out healthy and alive. We appeal to the rescue teams to do their best to fast track the operation of searching for those who are still trapped underground,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said.

Baleni said it was intolerable that mine workers in Turkey were denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guaranteed their safety.

“This tragedy must rank as the worst mining tragedy in recent memory, and is made all the more tragic by the seemingly uncaring attitude of the government and mining companies. This attitude is unacceptable and must come to an end.”

In South Africa, the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act No. 29 of 1996) provides for the protection of the health and safety of employees and other persons affected by the South African mining industry and, amongst others, provides for the promotion of a culture of health and safety as well as the enforcement of health and safety measures or legislation.

As a result, there has been a steady improvement in safety performance of the South African mining industry during the past 10 years, particularly in coal, platinum and other commodity mines.

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