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County Leaders Resign After Mine Flooding
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Following a coal mine flooding two weeks ago which left 56 miners trapped and who are now presumed dead the two heads of Zuoyun County in Shanxi Province have resigned, the local legislature said Saturday.

The Standing Committee of the Zuoyun County People's Congress approved the resignations filed by Zhang Mingsheng, former county magistrate of Zuoyun people's government and his deputy Shi Lu, who was in charge of the county's coal production on Friday night.

The local work safety authorities had attempted to cover up the fatal accident by reporting that only five miners were trapped.

No reason was given for their resignations but it's clear that they took responsibility for the mining disaster.

In the more than two weeks since the flooding trapped the miners top safety authorities have portrayed the Xinjing mine as being plagued by mismanagement and negligence. They seek to punish the officials involved and highlight the number of accidents occurring in the industry.

The accident in Zuoyun, in the heart of the province, shocked everyone. And mine managers initially attempted to cover up the accident. However, investigators have discovered there was over-mining going on and digging in coal seams outside the licensed area.

Before Friday's resignations at least 10 mine managers and two officers from a local bank had been detained and three local government officials suspended from duty -- in a sign of apparent collusion between the mine owners and various officials.

In another development rescuers on Sunday found the bodies of two miners missing after a gas leak at Ni'er Coal Mine, in southwest China's Yunnan Province, bringing the death toll in that incident to five.

The mine in Xuanwei City collapsed at about 3 AM on Tuesday when poisonous gas escaped into an area where 15 miners were working. Rescue workers lifted 10 miners to safety and had recovered three bodies by Wednesday noon.

The families of the five dead miners will receive compensation of 181,000 yuan (US$22,625), said sources with the local government.

An investigation into the cause of the accident continues.

(, Xinhua News Agency June 5, 2006)

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