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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Two Detained in Coal Mine Tragedy

Mining Disaster China "Two men responsible for the flooded coal mine accident in Wuhai City in north China' Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were detained by local police Saturday afternoon. "

Once again an illegally operated coal mine looks like claiming the lives of 15 Chinese miners. The coal mine, hiring some 60 miners, had been shut by the local government on April 28 due to its poor facility of ventilation but the owner started mining again in secret.

The accident has trapped 15 miners and rescue teams have stated that the chance of survival is thin.

The accident which occurred only the day before a mine disaster in Shanxi Province that has so far claimed 36 lives comes not long after the Chinese government released a report of Industrial accidents for the first quarter 2004 citing a decrease in coal mining deaths.

The problem of coal mines secretly operating after being closed for safety reasons is endemic in China so it amazes me why there would appear no effective follow up by officials confirming that closure orders are enforced. It seems it's a case of "I did my job issuing a close down order if they re-open it's not my fault"

There would appear of late a willingness of officials to take criminal action for negligence against mine owners and management which is welcomed. It is now time for the Central Government to inculcate the mining industry regulatory officialdom with the new found Chinese doctrine of "personal responsibility" for such disasters.

The Chinese coal mining industry official figures cite above 7,000 deaths per annum as a result of coal mining accidents. Expert opinion places this figure much higher, upwards of 10,000, with many accidents, fatalities and injuries being hidden from Central Government scrutiny by coal mine owners and local officials.


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