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Dec 13 2018

Head of Turkish state railways locks Twitter account after train crash

The head of Turkish state railways (TCDD), İsa Apaydın, locked his Twitter account to prevent the comments of the Turkish social media users protesting the train crash in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Thursday morning.

Nine people were killed and 47 injured after a high speed train hit a railway engine near a station in Ankara. Three of the injured are in critical condition.

The train crash is the third serious train accident that took place in Turkey this year. 

In July, 25 people were killed and more than 70 injured when a passenger train derailed in Çorlu, in northwest Turkey, after heavy rain caused ground underneath the tracks to collapse. 

Last month 15 people were injured when a passenger train collided with a freight train in Turkey’s central province of Sivas.

Apaydın previously blocked on Twitter  the relatives of the victims that were killed or injured due to the train accident in Çorlu. This time he chose to lock his account to avoid the comments of the Turkish social media users.

Apaydın unlocked his Twitter account on Thursday evening after changing his profile picture to a picture of a Turkish flag. He did not share a condolence message.

Mısra Öz, who has been actively campaigning in social media after losing her 9-year old son in Çorlu train accident, was one of the Twitter users that posted a comment after the train crash in Ankara.

“Do not express your condolences for those citizens killed! We have moved heaven and earth for the past five months to prevent someone else getting hurt! Shut down the institutions you can not succeed in managing! Resign! Do not get on those trains,” she said.

A railway worker stands at the scene where a passenger train derailed on Sunday, near Corlu in Tekirdag province, Turkey July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsalar
A railway worker stands at the scene where a passenger train derailed near Corlu in Tekirdag province, Turkey July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsalar

“Between 2004 and 2017, 1,355 people died in 3,473 train accidents. Nobody has ever resigned. 25 died in Çorlu. No lawsuit has been opened. The head of TCDD blocked the relatives of the victims. Even a parliamentary inquiry commission was not established,” journalist Hilmi Hacaloğlu said.

Columnist Kemal Can noted a 2004 train accident when 41 people were killed and 80 were injured after a high-speed train derailed in Pamukova, in the northwestern province of Sakarya. Many experts accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the time of causing the accident by starting the high-speed train services without adequate infrastructure. 

Binali Yıldırım, the Minister of Transportation at the time, said the train was going at a higher speed than it should have been. Yıldırım later became the prime minister of Turkey. He is currently the speaker of the Turkish Parliament and is expected to be announced as the AKP candidate for Istanbul for the upcoming local elections in March. 

“The 2004 train accident in Pamukova was a critical milestone for the AKP to put pressure on the media, to control and repress the public, and to establish an opportunity for political irresponsibility,” Can said on Twitter.

“A new train accident in Ankara, while nobody has yet answered for the accident in Çorlu,” secularist politician Fikri Sağlar said, adding that the proposal to set up a parliamentary inquiry for the Çorlu train accident was rejected by the votes of the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

“I can only say one thing about the train accident: It is our fault. We should not have given up asking them to take responsibility,” a Twitter user said. 

“Train lines being privatised, opened without a signalisation system, those are horrible things. Those are not accidents,” economist Ümit Akçay said.

Akçay was referring to the statement of Hasan Bektaş, the head of the Turkish transportation workers union. Bektaş said that the high-speed train line had been opened before the general elections held on June 24, although the signalisation system had not been completed. 

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