UPDATE: Turkey holds protest strike after blast kills 282 miners
More outrage as Turkey PM downplays country's worst-ever mining disaster
Turkey’s four biggest unions called a one-day strike on Thursday, saying workers’ lives were being jeopardised to cut costs.
They also demanded that those responsible for the collapse of the coal mine in the western town of Soma in Manisa province be brought to account.
“Hundreds of our workers have been left to die from the very beginning by being forced to work in cruel production processes to achieve maximum profits,” they said in a joint statement, calling on people to wear black.
“We call on the working class and friends of labourers to stand up for our brothers in Soma.”
Police clashed with protesters after at least 282 workers died in one of the worst mining accidents in modern history.
Hopes faded for scores more miners still trapped underground two days after the devastating blast.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon at around 20,000 anti-government protesters in the western city of Izmir.
Turkish PM on mining disaster: 'These things happen'
Grief turns to rage after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made comments downplaying the mining disaster in Soma.
After promising a thorough investigation into the disaster, Mr Erdogan, who visited the explosion site on Wednesday, angered crowds as he said: "Let's not interpret the incident as one that won't happen in coal mines. These things happen."
He further downplayed the accident by comparing Tuesday's explosion to mining disasters elsewhere. He continued: "204 people died in the UK in 1862 and 361 people in 1864. There is something in literature called work accidents."
According to earlier reports, 787 workers were underground when the blast occurred. By late Wednesday, "close to 450" workers had been rescued.
Meanwhile, thousands of protestors are calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister in Ankara and Istanbul as they accuse the government and mining industry of being negligent. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters in Ankara and Istanbul.
Further angering protestors, Mr Erdogan accused them of politicizing the tragedy.
"There are some groups, extreme elements, that want to abuse developments like this one. I would like to reiterate that, for the peace and unity of our nation, it is very, very important not to pay heed to them," he said.
But not all is grim on social media. A vine video, which shows a rescued worker asking if he should remove his boots as he was afraid he would dirty the stretcher, has gone viral.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Guardian
Photos: Twitter, Reuters