An evaluation of Soma underground coal mine disaster with respect to risk acceptance and risk perception

Duzgun H. S., Yaylaci E. D.

3rd International Symposium on Mine Safety Science and Engineering (ISMS), Montreal, Canada, 13 - 19 August 2016, pp.368-374 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Montreal
  • Country: Canada
  • Page Numbers: pp.368-374
  • Keywords: risk perception, risk acceptance, underground coal mining, Soma Mine Disaster, MANAGEMENT, TURKEY, INJURY, SAFETY, LOST
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The underground coal mine disaster that occurred in Soma-Eynez Mine (SEM), Turkey, is one of the largest coal mine disasters of this Millennium. A fire suddenly started in the mine and could not be controlled, resulting in 301 fatalities and approximately 100 injuries. Although the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and there are various hypotheses related to the ignition of the fire, most of the casualties were mainly due to decision-making related problems in various hierarchal levels. Moreover, the decision making related problems in the emergency management have cascading effects and impacts on the casualties, and are related to risk acceptance and perception of the mine management. In this paper, the casualties of Soma Mine Disaster (SMD) are analyzed in terms of risk acceptance and risk perception in order to establish related guidelines for better decision-making practice in case of emergencies in underground mines in Turkey. It is found that quite a high degree of risk was accepted for mine fires by the high-level decision makers, which led mine employees to have a false safety perception. This also resulted in almost full ignorance of self-escape, inappropriate use of personal safety equipment, and unstructured emergency management which yielded large number of mine staff to wait in the mine during the fire instead of a quick implementation of the mine evacuation plan.