Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Owners and managers of coal mines are accused of alerting events, evening of hiding bodies, at their mines o cover up their responsibilities before public officers. Xinhua news agency reports that according to Li Yizhong, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety there have been cover-ups of 12 coal mine accidents in the first three months of this year, in which mine owners and managers had “sabotaged accident scenes, destroyed incriminating evidence and moved bodies”.
Li told a safety meeting that the number of miners killed or missing jumped to 279 in March from 81 in February. This week alone, at least 64 people have been killed in 4 Chinese mines: in the most recent accident, early this morning, 11 miners were killed and six are still missing after a blast in northern Hebei province.
The government has long denounced the lack of work safety in many mines that operate without authorisation, or re-open following their closure. Moreover, Li said that Just over 40 per cent of the fatal accidents happened in illegal operations, thus demonstrating that the lack of security also regards the sate sponsored mines. Since the beginning of 2005 over 10 mines have been closet, but over 70% of Chinese energy is produced by the coal mines and the high demand pushes producers to open them even without the authorization of local authorities and local officers fail to report them.
Over 5 million miners work in the coal mines. Li’s report confirms that the number of victims is a lot higher than the official data would lead us to believe according to which 4.750 died in 2006. Official sources say that at least 20,000 have died.