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Subway Contractor Faces Stiff Penalty over Collapse
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The State Council has called for severe punishments for those responsible for the Beijing subway accident that killed six people in March.

The body of the sixth victim was recovered on Tuesday, bringing to a close a six-week search for the bodies of the migrant workers.

The body of Zhou Yongquan, who came from Danling County in southwest China's Sichuan Province, was found at 5:30 AM on Tuesday.

His nephew Zhou Jie, 18, also died in the subway tunnel collapse on March 28.

Rescue efforts were halted five days after the accident occurred due to fears of further cave-ins.

The accident happened at a construction site on the No 10 Subway Line on Haidian Nanlu Road between the northern third and fourth ring roads in Haidian District, northwest Beijing.

Compensation for the dead workers' families ranged from 200,000 to 400,000 yuan (U$26,000- to U$52,000), with the poorest being paid the most.

The No 10 subway line runs east to west, through Zhongguancun hi-tech zone in the city's northwest and the diplomatic areas in the east. It will connect to a separate line running directly to the Olympic Village north of Beijing when completed in 2008.

The accident was the fifth on the No 10 subway line since construction began in 2005.

In a joint circular issued on Tuesday, the General Administration of Work Safety and Ministry of Construction attributed the accident to poor management, as the prime contractor of the project knew little of the complicated underground situation and allowed construction to continue when signs of a cave-in were detected.

Investigators say the construction site is prone to cave-ins because it used to be a pond surrounded by graves and cropland and was only loosely filled with sand in the 1950s.

China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co initially failed to report the accident to municipal authorities and mounted its own rescue operation instead.

In an alleged cover-up attempt, project managers ordered all workers to stay at the construction site and not to talk to the media or police. They also confiscated most of the workers' cell phones.

The municipal authorities did not learn of the accident until almost eight hours after the collapse, when a worker from central Henan Province called his family, who then sought help from police in their hometown.

Police detained 10 people in connection with the accident, including the site supervisor and tunnel designers.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2007)

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