Death toll still rising in China's coal mine

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Despite government promises to stem the carnage, the death toll in China's disaster-plagued coal mine industry is rising, according to the latest statistics released by the government on Friday.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the industry suffered 2,337 accidents that killed 4,228 people between January and September this year.

According to earlier figures, fires, floods and other accidents in coal mines killed 4,153 people in the first nine months of 2004.

"The government has issued a series of regulations and measures to improve the country's coal mine safety situation," the Xinhua said. "However, the situation is still serious."

By October 10 this year there had been 43 coal mine accidents that killed 10 or more people, Xinhua said.

China's mines are said to be the most dangerous in the world, with more than 6,000 miners killed last year in fires, explosions, floods, cave-ins and other disasters.

The government says it has shut down hundreds of unsafe mines and punished mine owners who put profits ahead of lives. Independent sources and Ngo's claim that the real death toll in China's coal mines could in 2004 be as high as 20,000.

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