The death toll in a colliery fire in central China has risen to 24
after a cover-up scandal was revealed on Saturday.
"The number of deaths is 24, not seven, as announced previously
by the local authorities. The deaths of 17 miners were deliberately
concealed," Li Jiucheng, director of the Coal Mine Safety Bureau of
Henan Province, told Xinhua on Saturday.
Colliery managers and local officials originally said that seven
miners had been killed and four others injured in the fire, which
broke out under a well early on the morning of February 2 in
Xing'an Colliery in Tianchi town of Mianchi county.
When reporters visited villages to investigate the accident,
they heard stories of a possible cover-up.
"Five people, including the owner and manager of the mine, have
been taken into custody, and four government officials have been
sacked, including a deputy head of Mianchi county, the director of
the county coal bureau, the head of Tianchi town and the town's
Party chief," Li said.
The Xing'an coal mine had been ordered to suspend production
months ago while the local government studied an upgrade plan for
But early on the morning of February 2, Fu Faming, the head
of the mine, fearing spontaneous combustion of coal underground,
ordered miners into the mine to cover the walls of the shaft with
The fire is believed to have been caused by overheated
The injured workers have received treatment and been released
from hospital, say local sources.
(Xinhua News Agency February 11, 2007)