Going into the darkness of the underground coal mines and coming out after few hours and looking at the bright Sun is a special experience. You feel the contrast – the contrast between the darkness and the light. You feel the brightness and the warmth of the Sun in your cells and you feel it in your heart. Many years ago such an experience gave me a notion of “spiritual enlightenment.”
In the absence of an artificial light source there is total darkness in the galleries of the deep underground coal mines. My father used to call it “zifiri karanlık” which can be translated as “pitch dark” or total darkness. My father was a mining engineer. He passed away in 2008. He worked in the deep underground coal mines in Turkey for 30 years. He took me into the underground mines few times. I have never experienced that total darkness during my visits but my father experienced it few times during accidents.
My father dealt with few mining disasters during his engineering career. One of the biggest grisu gas (an explosive mix of methane and air) explosions in Turkish mining history happened during his watch as a general manager of a mining company. During and after the accident, for many years, he went through great emotional pains and he suffered in every way possible in the hands of exploitative politicians, vulture-like media, government officials, and prosecutors. He always told me that his conscience was clear. He told me that he was paying very close attention to all the details of the company especially the safety planning and practices but the accident still happened! Since my childhood I witnessed how dedicated he was to his job. He was the most responsible man I have ever known. Grisu explosions and other mining accidents happen even when a company is managed by the best qualified and responsible engineers.
The nagging question, however, is this: why do we see more mining accidents in the developing countries? Many explanations are given: a) negligence at all levels b) lack of early-warning systems c) lack of disaster planning d) training issues e) organizational issues f) uneducated work force g) lack of proper inspections by the government and many other factors unique to developing countries.
There are some prosaic reasons too. Believe it or not, when I was a young man my father used to catch workers smoking cigarettes in the coal mines. Such are the problems of the developing countries.
The mining accident that happened in Soma, Turkey on May 13, 2014 was the worst in Turkish history. It took 301 lives.
I share the pain of the families who have lost their loved ones in the Soma mines. I share the sorrow felt by everyone in Turkey.
I always thought that miners are special people. How do they end up as miners? Fate, karma? Or, is it special education? When I have difficulties in life I remember the difficulties my father went through in life. I thank him and all the miners in the world for their sacrifices.
I am praying that the men who died in the Soma mines are graced by God with angelic life for a long time until their ultimate salvation.
Nur içinde yatsınlar (may their souls rest in divine light)