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Turkey coal mine explosion: Relatives' grief turns to outrage as death toll rises to 282

By AP Reporters

Grief is turning into anger in Turkey as the death toll in the country's worst mining accident rose to at least 282 yesterday.

Hundreds of people have been attending funerals for the victims in the town of Soma, with dozens of graves dug for the bodies.

Although 363 miners were rescued, some 150 more remain missing. No miner has been brought out alive since early on Wednesday morning.

Mourners at the funerals said they spent their lives fearing something like this.

"The wives of the miners kiss their husbands in the morning. When they come back, even if they are five minutes late, everyone starts calling" said Gulizar Donmez (45), the daughter and wife of a miner and neighbour of one of the victims.

"You never know what is going to happen."

There is growing anger at the government, who many have blamed for slack safety standards in mines.

Hostile crowds shouted abuse at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to the area.

Mr Erdogan, who is expected to announce his candidacy for presidential elections in August, was forced to take refuge at a supermarket after crowds called him a murderer and thief and clashed with police.

Turkish newspapers also printed photographs they said were of an Erdogan aide kicking a protester who was on the ground and being held by special forces police during the scuffles.

Mr Erdogan had earlier downplayed the disaster, calling mining accidents "ordinary things" that also occur in many other countries.

Trade unions went on strike as protests also broke out in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities over the deaths and poor safety conditions at Turkish mines.

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