Beijing (AsiaNews) – Victims of fatal mine accidents fell by over 20% in 2007, for a total death count of 3,800. The news was reported by central and state media. However grave doubts surround the credibility of these official statistics.
Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, said: “It is the second consecutive year for the country to report a 20 per cent fall in coal mine accident fatalities. In 2002, the production of over 1 million tonnes of coal killed almost 5 people. In 2007, that number fell to 1.5 people”.
Chinese mines are the most dangerous in the world. To meet increased demand for energy in the country – 70% coal based – mine owners push extraction to the extreme but fail to guarantee mine security. In 2007, Chinese miners – underpaid and overworked – extracted over 2.52 billion tonnes of coal.
However statistics on mine fatalities are barely credible, given that many deaths are never reported to avoid the closures of the plants, as established by law. According to independent reports deaths iin Chinese mines amount to at least 20 thousand every year.
In the last two years the central government has approved a series of measures on mine security, but they are rarely enforced. The guilty are not brought to justice: in 2006, 95% of Party officials implicated in the ownership of mines where fatal accidents occurred, were acquitted.