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20 Miners Dead in Two Days

Four coal miners were killed and six others injured in a cave-in at the Yangcaogou Coal Mine in Jiutai City, Jilin Province, on October 12.


According to the China News Service, the accident took place at a depth of 140 meters in a section of the mine that was opened earlier this month. A total of 46 workers were in the mine at the time.


By noon on October 12, rescue and recovery operations were complete. The six injured men were sent to two hospitals in nearby Changchun, the provincial capital, and are reportedly in satisfactory condition.


An investigation into the cause of the accident is now under way and the results should be released on October 15, according to the Changchun Provincial Work Safety Bureau.


Preliminary investigations attribute the cave-in to operations that violated pit regulations.


The Yangcaogou Coal Mine belongs to the Changchun Coal Group Co. Established in 1985, it produces 500,000 tons of coal a year.


On October 10, two coal mines caught fire at Jinjiang Township, Linwu County, in central China’s Hunan Province. The blazes left 14 workers dead and seven injured.


Local police investigating the case believe that arson may be involved, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. Local residents say that the owners of the two mines had been feuding over rights to the coal.


The mine owners fled after the fires.


Also on October 10, a cave-in at the Huangniuling Mine of the Zixing Mine Group Co. in Hunan Province trapped five miners underground. The last report available from the site said that two bodies had been found and that rescue and recovery operations continued.


In another development, 20 people from Handan, Hebei Province, have been penalized for covering up a coal mine gas explosion that killed 14 and incurred economic losses of 2.1 million yuan (US$254,000) on June 3 this year.


According to the Hebei Provincial Coal Mine Safety Supervision Bureau, Hongda Coal Mine director Ma Dengfeng and other eight people were found criminally liable for the accident.


Chen Zhenli, vice head of Handan County, and 10 others were given Communist Party disciplinary sanctions.


Operations were suspended at the mine and the company was fined 150,000 yuan (US$18,000).


China has vowed to crack down on the notorious underreporting of accidents at some coal mines, saying that severe penalties would be meted out to those responsible for cover-ups. Several underreported or deceptively reported cases were discovered across the country when gas explosions occurred in mines in Henan and Hunan as well as in Hebei Province earlier this year


In the first half of 2004, 7,311 people died in coal mine accidents. The number was slightly lower than last year's 7,923.

(China.org.cn October 13, 2004)

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