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Official Goes on trial in Connection with Mine Disaster
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A provincial work safety official went on trial Thursday on charges connected with a coal mine flooding that left 121 people dead last August.

Hu Jianchang, former deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Administration for Work Safety, was charged with dereliction of duty and accepting bribes, sources with the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People's Court said.

The flooding occurred at 1:30 PM on August 7 at Daxing Coal Mine in the southern Guangdong city of Xingning. Four miners escaped at the time, and rescue teams worked for 23 days to find the bodies of 121 others.

The tragedy caused a direct economic loss of 47.25 million yuan (about US$6 million).

Hu is charged with accepting bribes from mine owner Zeng Yungao from April 2003 to July 2005, sources with the court said.

He issued a production license for the mine in violation of the regulations on June 7 last year, just two months before the disaster.

Sixty-three people have already been penalized in connection with the incident, the provincial discipline supervision authorities have said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2006)

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