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Local Governments More Vigilant on Preventing Accidents

Local governments in China have decided to pay more attention to fire safety after two major weekend fires killed at least 93 people.


The State Council, China's cabinet, has launched a special work safety inspection campaign across the country, ordering local governments to step up their measures, beginning Tuesday, to prevent any major accidents involving great human and property losses after several major blazes were reported so far this month.


Two separate fires Sunday in the northeast and eastern provinces of Jilin and Zhejiang, respectively killed at least 93 people and injured 73 others, only two weeks after a stampede killed 37 people near China's capital.


"Coal mines, public transport vehicles, construction sites, schools and other public venues are the major targets of this anti-accidents campaign," said Wang Xianzheng, director of the State Administration of Work Safety.


"Enterprises should increase their investment in work safety, to make it exceed those losses caused by accidents," Wang said, warning that those responsible will pay higher compensation for major accidents henceforth.


The work safety watchdog hopes the upgrading of the compensation criteria will help enterprises and local governments to voluntarily invest more in work safety.


In east China's Jiangxi Province, coalmines have to take 6 to 12 yuan (72 cents to US$1.4) out of every ton of coal output as investment for work safety in 2004, according to the Jiangxi Province Department of Coal Mine Safety Supervision.


The provinces of Henan and Shanxi, both major coal producers, have sent special inspection teams to coal mines, chemical plants and factories producing explosives to check for hidden dangers.


Top officials in Shanghai and Beijing cities, and Liaoning and Jilin provinces also vowed Tuesday to bring down accidents within their jurisdiction.


China has suffered a string of accidents in recent weeks that have killed dozens of people through fires, coal mine accidents and other disasters blamed on shoddy construction, indifference to safety rules and other negligence.


President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have vowed to make safety for ordinary Chinese people a priority, calling on people of all walks of life to do more to prevent accidents.


(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2004)


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