Coal mining is among the more hazardous occupations in Turkey, underscored by a mishap earlier this year that claimed eight lives. But economic necessity is keeping the country reliant on coal, and pushing miners to risk their lives.
Nearly 2,000 feet beneath the surface of a mine in the Kozlu District of Turkey's northwestern Zonguldak Province, miners dig coal from a slit in the roof of a narrow tunnel where they are barely able to stand. It was in this same mine last January that eight miners died following a methane gas leak.
"They lost their lives. … They had no other options," said Necdet Çebi, a 52-year-old mine manager, referring to the dead miners. He keeps small photos of each gas-leak victim in his desk.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul. Mathias Depardon is a documentary photographer based in Istanbul.