Mine Disaster Calls for Safety Reforms

The all-out effort to save workers trapped in a pit after a fatal coal mine explosion in East China's Jiangsu Province is crucial because life is so precious.

The catastrophe on Sunday in Gangzi Village in the city of Xuzhou trapped 106 miners at the bottom of an illegally operating coal mine. Thirteen people were rescued, but the 93 others in the mine are confirmed or presumed dead.

So far thousands of deaths have been recorded in similar pit collapses as many small coal mines fail to meet proper safety standards. The State has repeated many times that those responsible for such tragedies, especially those involving illegal production, will face harsh punishment.

In this case, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that this mine was shut down for not having a license last month as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegally run mines. It reopened anyway.

That reflects both poor safety standards and intense greed by mine operators but also neglect by local officials. The province's present effort to close small mines after the explosion is necessary, and the provincial governor's warning against officials who take bribes is a good start.

It's not enough, though. All officials must be forced to learn more about worker safety. Despite the disaster, many poor unemployed rural workers remain willing to risk their lives for a dangerous job even after so many accidents have happened. There's no quick solution to this problem, but economic development is key.

It is critical that people's safety should not be sacrificed in the name of development.

(China Daily 07/27/2001)

In This Series



Web Link