On August 1, a landslide occurred at a local iron mine in Loufan County in the suburbs of the Shanxi provincial capital Taiyuan, which buried Sigou Village. Initially, according to local media and local government, it was claimed that the landslide was a natural disaster. It has now been reclassified as a major-liability accident. Why the huge turnabout? According to Guangzhou Daily, the reason lies in an article, called "A letter to the Shanxi Provincial Governor", published in the blog of an Oriental Outlook journalist, Sun Chunlong.
On August 1, a landslide occurred at a local iron mine in Loufan County in the suburbs of the Shanxi provincial capital Taiyuan, which buried Sigou Village. [Xinhua]
According to Guangzhou Daily, Sun published the article in his blog on September 14, which attracted the attention of Premier Wen Jiabao and other senior officials. Following his report published in Oriental Outlook, "Lofan: the truth dragged out", this letter again pointed out weaknesses in the investigation of the Loufan landslide. On September 19 Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Ma Kai asked the Shanxi provincial government and a special team from the State Council to investigate this serious incident.
According to Sun's blog, his suspicions were aroused by local media reports that the death toll was only nine and later grew to 11. As a journalist, his professional ethics and instinct inspired him to make several visits to Loufan to investigate and carry out interviews. Through an anonymous survey, Sun, with the assistance of his colleague, compiled a list consisting of the families and home address of 41 people who died in the accident. The information was detailed and correct. At the end of August, an article written by Sun Chunlong and his colleague Wang Xiao, "Lofan: the truth dragged out" was released by Oriental Outlook.
In the article, Sun claimed that the Loufan landslide was not a natural disaster, but an accident resulting from human cause. As a journalist with a conscience, he hoped through his report and blog to attract the attention of the central government to the Loufan landslide incident, and to obtain compensation for the victims.
On October 6, the State Council, China's Cabinet, sent a second special team to investigate the August 1 landslide in order to conduct a thorough review of whether there had been any concealment or deception in local government reporting of the incident. The manager of this special team, Wang Dexue, vice director of the State Administration of Work Safety, declared on October 6, that the accident was not a natural disaster, but a major-liability accident. According to the website of the State Administration of Work Safety, to date the bodies of 41 victims had been recovered.
(China.org.cn by Ma Yujia, October 9, 2008)