The Turkish mine disaster Tuesday has now claimed 301 lives, making it the worst mining disaster in Turkish history — in a country known for its lax safety mining safety standards and frequent mine accidents. Rescuers have ended their search for bodies from Tuesday’s explosion and fire in the Turkish mining town of Soma and say that the death toll of 301 is final.
But of the dizzying number of heart-wrenching, tragic stories to come out of the Turkish mining disaster, one was especially poignant. That was the story of Ismail and Suleyman Cata, 32-year-old identical twin brothers, who were as inseperable in death as they were in life.
The two brothers were found deep inside the Soma mine holding hands, clinging together as oxygen ran out and carbon monoxide levels rose inside the mine where an explosion started a raging fire that trapped hundreds of miners — and has sparked widespread anti-government protests over the poor safety standards for the Turkish mining industry.
To those who knew Ismail and Suleyman Cata, it was no surprise that they were found together, clinging to each other for solace as they knew their lives were coming an end.
The identical twins shared a bond that many similar pairs of twins experience, a bind that never weakened as they journeyed through life. Not only did they grow up together and attend school side-by-side, they entered the Turkish army at the same time, and in 2004 went to work in the coal mine together.
In 2009, they shared one of life’s most special moments when they were married in double ceremony — Ismail (on left, above) to his with Fatima, and Suleyman to Murside.
Suleyman since became the father of a boy, Ahmet, who is now four years old. Ismail became a dad to his own set of twins. His now-fatherless children are now two years old.
“We are broken inside. How can this happen?” said Murside Cata. “The only solace was they went together. My husband was a devoted family man. He was the great love of my life. He worked very hard for very little money and in very difficult conditions. His dream was to retire at a young age and spend more time with his family. Now he is gone and will never come back.”
Like many in Turkey, she placed the blame for the deaths of her husband and his twin brother in the mining disaster squarely on the Turkish government. “I am angry because his death was unnecessary,” she said.
That conviction was shared by the twins father, Ahmet Cata.
“I’ve lost both of them… both of them. What are we going to do?” he lamented, in tears. “If they had taken health and safety issues properly my sons would be by my side now. It’s not fair. My daughters-in-law now have to bring up their children on their own. How will my wife cope?”
The cause of the Turkish mine disaster was originally believed to be an explosion at an electrical station, but officials Saturday said the origin of the blast and blaze that followed are still a mystery.