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Provincial Governor Mourns Mine Victims
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At the start of the new year, the governor of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province mourned the 166 miners killed in what is thought the deadliest mine accident in China for 44 years. He also vowed to improve safety down the pits.

During the holiday, Governor Chen Deming laid a wreath at the foot of a monument at Chenjiashan Colliery in Tongchuan, more than 100 kilometers from provincial capital Xi'an. The monument was erected in memory of the 166 people who died in a massive gas explosion on November 28, 2004.

Altogether 293 miners were working down the pit when the accident occurred, and only 127 miners who worked near the entrance were rescued. The accident was the deadliest in China's mining industry since 1960, when a gas explosion killed 187 people at Longshanmiao colliery in Pingdingshan, a city in central China's Henan Province.

The State-owned Chenjiashan Colliery has been closed since the accident for a safety overhaul.

As he expressed New Year greetings to all the colliery staff, Chen sent a clear message that the government will spare no effort to make the pits safer.

He urged the colliery management to draw a lesson from the tragedy, take concrete measures to exploit and minimize the risk of coal-bed gas, and send fewer miners down the pit at any one time.

"When the colliery is allowed to resume operations again, I hope Chenjiashan will become the safest mine in the province and across the country," Chen told the colliery staff.

Chenjiashan coal mine employs more than 3,400 people and produces 2.3 million tons of coal a year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2006)

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