The death toll in Turkey’s deadliest coal mine accident is nearing 300 people. A North Texan who's a native of Manisa, south of the Turkish mine, talked to KERA about the accident and efforts in Dallas-Fort Worth to raise money for victims' families this weekend.
Anil Akcay lives in Mansfield, but she’s from western Turkey, near Soma, where a fire still burns and miners remain missing.
“It’s hard to be away from home,” she said. “And watching the news. You just want to go there and help them. But you can’t do that. And they’re showing the kids, the families, everybody’s so sad. It’s a disaster. And it’s burning hot now, but a couple of months later, nobody’s going to think about this, so we need to help them now so they won’t be left behind.”
She says there is little development in Soma, and coal mines are the only source of income for families there.
“Most of these people are relatives,” Akcay said. “Or they’re neighbors. They grow up together, then they work in the coal mines together. They spend eight or nine hours a day under the ground together. Even if they’re not brothers, they feel like brothers. And everybody’s mourning because it’s not just 300 people. It’s 300 families.”
Akcay is active in the Turkish Society of Texas. Its members are holding a cooking class this Sunday in Plano to raise funds for victims of the mining accident.
Vepa Rejepov, a volunteer with the Raindrop Turkish House, says the annual Turkish Spring Festival in Richardson Saturday will be subdued.
“We’ll have only stage performances, like poem, or something like that,” Rejepov said. “Other things are cancelled. And we’ll be mourning with the families. Also we’ll be fund-raising for the Soma victims.”
He says the money raised won’t replace the losses, but he hopes every little bit from Texas will help ease each family’s burden back in Turkey.