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County Chiefs Sacked over Mine Accident Cover-up
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Following a suspected "cover-up" after a coalmine disaster in north China's Shanxi Province a county chief and his deputy have been relieved of their posts in the local Party committee for dereliction of duty. 

At least 56 miners have been trapped underground in the mine in Zuoyun County for 11 days.

The municipal Party committee of Datong, which governs the county, announced over the weekend that county chief Zhang Mingsheng and his deputy Shi Lu had been relieved of their Party positions.

They retain their government posts but informed sources at the rescue headquarters said that the county people's congress is considering dismissing them altogether. 

At least 266 miners were working underground when the mine flooded on May 18 and 210 managed to escape. But it was initially reported that just five miners had lost their lives in the incident. 

The State Council has set up an investigation, headed by Li Yizhong,  director of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) to look into the accident. Provincial governor Yu Youjun and several deputy ministers of public security, supervision and work safety have also joined the investigation in what is the most serious coalmine accident this year.

The weekend announcement follows the detention of 19 mine executives and contractors last week.

Chang Rui, Party secretary of Zhangjiachang Town where the mine is located and Liu Yongxin, the township government head, were suspended from their posts last week because they were suspected of being involved in a cover-up.

Initial investigations suggest the flooding was caused by water pouring in from a neighboring mine.

(China.org.cn, China Daily May 29, 2006)

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