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China Warns of Accidents in Agricultural Sector
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Chinese farmers were warned on Friday to take precautions against work-related accidents, especially when machinery was involved, in a campaign to improve its safety record.

Work safety in the agricultural sector was shadowed by two severe accidents in the last two months, said the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Administration of Work Safety in a joint circular.

Nineteen workers were swept out to sea by the tide, and only two rescued, as they returned from collecting purple seaweed off the coast of east China's Jiangsu Province on May 15.

Seaweed farm owner Liu Songquan was later detained by police for making staff work late into the evening while workers on other farms had already stopped for the day.

Drink-driver Xie Dongsheng, in central China's Hunan Province, killed nine people and injured 16 others when the vehicle called Pantuo, a kind of four-wheeled tractor most suitable for climbing hills with heavy loads, carrying 28 people and a ton of fertilizer overturned and fell into a three-meter ravine on his way back to his village from a fair on May 8.

"Lessons should be learned from the terrible accidents," said the circular.

Governments were instructed to rigorously inspect farm machinery to ensure machines were in proper condition, and enforce checks of violations such as unlicensed driving and drink-driving in the countryside.

The two ministries also required local governments to report accidents in a timely manner and accurately, in accordance with a new regulation on the reporting, investigation and punishment of work-related accidents that is to come into effect on June 1.

Accidents should never be left with causes unidentified, those responsible unpunished, or improvements not enforced, said the circular.

The government said on Thursday that 133 people were punished for five major accidents that killed 249 people in the industrial sector.

(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2007)

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