On January 28, China.org.cn carried a Xinhua story that mistakenly reported 91,172 deaths due to accidents in China's coal mines during 2008. The correct figure for 2008 coal mining deaths is 3,215, according to the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).
SAWS told China.org.cn today that a total of 3,215 people were killed in coal mining accidents in China during 2008, down from 3,786 in 2007.
A SAWS spokesperson said the 91,172 figure referred to the total number of deaths resulting from 413,752 accidents of all types throughout China during 2008. The figures include all workplace accidents as well as road traffic accidents. The corresponding figures for 2007 were 101,480 and 506,376. It is believed a mistake at a press conference led to the total accident figures being applied to coal mining alone.
The Chinese authorities acknowledge there is a major problem of health and safety in the country's coal mines, but say most accidents occur in small, privately-owned, and often illegal, mines rather than larger, state-owned producers. They also maintain that safety standards are gradually improving.
(China.org.cn February 9, 2009)