Morning Security Brief: Death Toll in Turkey Rises, State of Emergency in San Diego County, GAO Report, and More

By Holly Gilbert Stowell

► The death toll in the worst mining accident in Turkey’s history has climbed to 282, with 150 miners still unaccounted for. As of Thursday morning, 362 miners had been rescued. On Wednesday evening, operation efforts were suspended due to burning coal inside the mine shafts creating “toxic fumes” and risky conditions, according to energy minister Taner Yildiz. The fatal accident occurred during a shift change, which likely led to an increase in casualties. Families are reportedly outraged at the response by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the accident, who called the disaster one of those “ordinary things” that happens in other countries. According to the article, Turkey’s safety standards for mines are poor, and mining accidents are common. The nation’s Labor and Social Security Ministry said the mines had been inspected five times since March 2012, and no safety violations were detected. 

► A state of emergency has been declared in San Diego County, California, where wildfires are ravaging a 14-square-mile area of southern California. According to USA Today, “the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department ordered new evacuations for an area near San Marcos which was hit late Wednesday by 21,000 evacuation notices for...California State University Campus where nearly 10,000 students were in the middle of final exams.” Firefighters are battling the blazes, which are being intensified by gusty Santa Ana winds. Brush and trees dried out by recent droughts are also fueling the fire.

► The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday highlighting the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to improve and manage its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. According to the report, DHS has created a system for identifying the facilities that should be reporting their CFATS holdings to the agency but failed to do so. DHS has also begun to “enhance its ability to assess risks and prioritize facilities,” as well as conducted proper reviews of security plans and inspecting facilities to verify compliance.

► Prosecutors in South Korea have charged the captain and three crew members from the ferry Sewol that sank last month, killing 284, with murder. According to prosecutor Yan Joong Jin, “They had no willingness to save the passengers…They consciously abandoned the passengers.” The four charged with homicide were part of a group of 15 crew who abandoned the Sewol as it sunk, without giving an evacuation order to those on board. The remaining crew members will also face charges, according to the prosecutors. If convicted, the four crew charged could face the death penalty. Divers are still searching for the bodies of victims on the sunken ferry. The accident is the worst maritime disaster in four decades in South Korea.


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