SOMA, Turkey – The company that owns the coal pit that was the site of Turkey’s worst mining accident denied Friday that it was negligent, saying it had followed the rules.
“I feel bad,” Soma Holding chief executive Alp Gurkan said. “I have great grief. Legally, we’ve done the maximum for safety.”
Gurkan said safe rooms are not required under Turkey’s mining law but his company was constructing one at the mine in Soma when Tuesday’s explosion and fire occurred.
The company and the government, meanwhile, drastically reduced the number of miners still feared to be in the mine to 18. The death toll rose to 284 as more bodies were recovered.
The blast initially was blamed on an electrical defect that caused a transformer to explode, but Gurkan and other company officials said the transformer could not be at fault and they still did not know the cause.
Laos’ defense minister may be on plane that crashed
BANGKOK – A Laos air force plane believed to be carrying 20 people including the country’s defense minister crashed today, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said.
There was no immediate word on casualties, said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Sek Wannamethee.
He said the plane took off from the capital, Vientiane, and crashed in the northeastern province of Xiangkhoung, about 292 miles away.
Iran nuclear talks end poorly, but set to continue in June
VIENNA – A crucial round of negotiations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program ended abruptly Friday with Western diplomats acknowledging a setback and blaming Iran for holding up the effort to seal a deal in the next nine weeks.
The snag did not derail the talks, however, and officials said an agreement was still possible by the July 20 deadline. Further meetings are planned next month.
Colombia, rebel group agree to fight drug trade
HAVANA – Colombia’s government and main rebel group on Friday announced an agreement to jointly combat illicit drugs in the South American country, which was long the world’s leading cocaine producer.
Under the accord, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, agreed to divorce itself completely from the drug trade.
DEA and Colombian authorities have said some FARC fronts are involved in the production and sales of drugs to Mexican and Colombian traffickers and through Venezuelan intermediaries. In the past, the FARC had denied any involvement in trafficking, claiming it only taxes producers. Peru recently overtook Colombia in cultivation of coca, the crop used to produce cocaine.
Guatemala nabs Zetas leader wanted in the United States
GUATEMALA CITY – A suspected Zetas leader in Guatemala who is wanted in the United States was arrested following a firefight in the eastern part of the Central American country, a senior official said Friday.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said Jairo Orellana Morales was captured in Zacapa province after a shootout with federal forces that killed a police officer and two others. He was arrested Thursday along with seven of his accomplices.