* Soma mine disaster killed 301 workers
* Head of parliament commission sees need for new law
* Turkey has said its rules are in line with EU
By Gulsen Solaker
SOMA, Turkey, June 10 Turkey needs a new coal
mining law to prevent a repeat of its worst ever industrial
disaster in which 301 workers were killed, the head of a
commission investigating the incident said on Tuesday.
The miners were killed last month in a mine fire in Soma, a
small town 480 km (300 miles) southwest of Istanbul, fuelling
anger in a nation which has long had one of the world's worst
workplace safety records.
The disaster highlighted gaps in Turkish regulation, not
least the lack of specific rules for the coal industry, as well
as insufficiently stringent inspections, local mining experts
told Reuters after of the fire.
Ali Riza Alaboyun, a deputy from the ruling AK Party who
heads the parliamentary commission investigating the accident,
said the highly-complex nature of coal mines required a separate
set of regulations.
"By doing this, we will be able to regulate inspections and
training related to coal mines separately," Alaboyun told
reporters during a visit to Soma.
Eight suspects including the chief executive of Soma Mining,
which operates the facility, have been provisionally charged
with "causing multiple deaths by negligence". The company has
denied any negligence on its part.
Turkey uses most of its coal for power production, and has
ramped up efforts to increase domestic coal output to reduce
reliance on imported natural gas.
The government has repeatedly said that its mining
guidelines are in line with those of the European Union.
The EU law in question, a 1992 directive covering
underground mineral-extracting industries, is a 20-page document
which contains basic requirements and broad principles that
individual EU countries then use to set detailed regulations and
The disaster prompted small-scale protests around Turkey,
directed at mine operators accused of ignoring safety for
profit, and at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, seen
as too close to industry bosses and insensitive in its response.
Erdogan vowed to pursue those responsible for the disaster.
An initial report on the possible causes of the accident,
cited by prosecutors, indicated that the fire may have been
triggered by coal heating up after making contact with the air,
sending deadly carbon monoxide through the mine.
Bahtiyar Unver, a mining professor at Hacettepe University
and consultant to the parliament commission, said investigations
inside the mine would be key to establishing the exact cause.
"Fires do not occur suddenly, it must have given a signal.
This is an accident ... that should not have happened," he said.
The commission has up to four months to complete its work.
(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Tattersall and James