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21 Officials Punished for Coal Mine Blast
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Twenty-one officials have been punished for last month's coal mine gas explosion in Henan, the central province's Administration of Work Safety said on Friday.

The blast, which occurred whilst 24 miners were underground, left eleven dead and nine wounded at Qiaoyan Coal Mine in Chengguan Township, Yiyang County on January 21.

Representatives from the work safety administration said decisions over punishments had been made by the provincial government and approved by central government departments.

The total economic loss caused by the accident was estimated at 2.35 million yuan (US$280,000).

According to official sources, the police are still in pursuit of Chui Genzhu, the owner of the mine who fled after the incident.

Senior officials from the township, the county mineral bureau and other government departments were dismissed, and several others given warnings.

The coal mine has been permanently closed and demolished.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2005)

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