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  • » 11/07/2005, 00.00


    Mining executives to go down into the mines

    This directive comes at a time when accidents continue unabated. In Hebei province dozens of miners die in cave-ins in three gypsum mines. Other serious accidents occur in Hunan and Hubei provinces.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The list of deadly accidents in Chinese mines is getting longer and longer. The government, which finds itself increasingly powerless vis-à-vis the situation, has sent out a directive ordering company executives to go underground and stay with the miners.

    The worst of the latest accidents occurred last night at the Kangli Gypsum Mine in Shangwang village, Xingtai County (Hebei Province). Cave-ins in this mine triggered the collapses of two adjacent gypsum mines, trapping 28 miners. So far 19 men have bee rescued but the rush is on to save those still trapped under tonnes of mud and stones.

    In announcing the preliminary death toll, the Work Safety Administration said that 18 people were dead but expected that number to rise.

    In Taiyuan (Shanxi), an explosion in a coal mine yesterday killed 15 miners and left one missing. In Lengshui (Hunan), six miners were trapped after a cave-in; rescue operations are still underway.

    China's rapid economic development has led many companies to mine as much coal as possible to fuel the boom but with little regard for safety.

    For this reason on August 22, China's State Council ordered public officials to give up their personal stakes in mining companies or quit their jobs, to avoid being involved in a conflict of interests. Until recently some 4,600 officials had stakes involved in coal mines.

    Given local officials' direct involvement in mining and the level of corruption, official sources remain doubtful about the data they receive from local officials. Links between mining companies and local officials have led to unsafe mines being opened or staying open and to the non enforcement of safety regulations.

    The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has decided to send its own teams to carry out investigations.

    In the latest attempt to curb the country's rampant mine accidents, Beijing has ordered that at least one member of a coal mine's management team descend into the shafts with the workers.

    The order was part of a detailed circular issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision.

    China's mines are considered the most dangerous in the world. Official data indicate that over 6,000 miners died in accidents last year. Independent data put that figure at at least 20,000.

    In the first nine months of this year, there were officially 4,228 deaths from mining accidents.

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    See also

    14/01/2008 CHINA
    Beijing: death in mines decrease
    According to the government, the number of deaths in Chinese mines fell by 20% in 2007, for a total death count of 3,800. Independent statistics however account at least 20 thousand deaths a year, never reported to authorities to avoid mine closures.

    30/08/2005 CHINA
    Guangdong Governor admits responsibility for death of 123 miners
    Miners were trapped in flooded mineshaft in early August. For the first time, a government official admits responsibilities to such disasters.

    02/12/2005 CHINA
    Heilongjiang mine death toll climbs to 166

    Another five miners are killed in an illegal mine in Hebei

    15/11/2006 CHINA
    Coal mines in China: cemeteries for migrants

    According to official sources, the growing demand for coal prompts managers to increase production and to reopen illegal mines. More than 100 miners have died in just a few days in accidents that could have been averted.

    27/09/2005 CHINA
    Chinese mines to open to foreign investments
    The world's largest coal mining company is interested in Chinese coal. Without radical overhaul of safety measures, thousands of mines will close.

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