Turkish police detain 18 in mine disaster probe: TV

ISTANBUL - Turkish police on Sunday detained 18 people suspected of negligence in connection with this week's deadly mine disaster, including executives from the mine operator, local media reported.

Rescue operations ended Saturday after the bodies of the last two trapped miners were retrieved following the country's worst ever industrial disaster, which claimed 301 lives.

Dozens of prosecutors have been assigned to investigate the fire and explosion believed to have been sparked by an electrical fault at a private mine in the western district of Soma.

Mine operator Soma Komur vehemently denied any negligence.

"We have all worked very hard. I have not seen such an incident in 20 years," its general director Akin Celik said. It was not clear whether Celik was among those detained.

A preliminary expert report on the accident obtained by the Milliyet newspaper pointed to several safety violations in the mine, including a shortage of carbon monoxide detectors and ceilings made of wood instead of metal.

The disaster has led to a surge of popular anger in Turkey, fuelled by what many saw as a heartless response from the government.