"Unscrupulous" mine owners and local officials were slammed by
the nation's top work safety official on Monday "for utter
disregard to workers' lives" after a string of deadly accidents
over the past three days.
An irate Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of
Work Safety (SAWS), told work safety officials nationwide in a
teleconference that "such a high frequency of serious accidents is
According to unnamed SAWS officials, Li was so agitated that he
shouted and pounded his desk before the conference. Li stressed
that coal mine owners and local officials would be held responsible
for the surge of accidents which killed 85 over the past three
Seven people were killed in a colliery accident in southwest
China's Guizhou Province yesterday.
Eleven workers were sorting impurities from a coal heap when it
collapsed on them at 9:47 AM at Shuicheng Coal Mine Group.
Seven died and four were rescued, said the work safety
administration in Liupanshui City, where the group is located.
An explosion on Sunday at Luweitan Colliery in Linfen City,
north China's Shanxi Province, claimed the lives of all 24
miners underground, the local government said yesterday.
Twenty-two miners were confirmed dead with five missing in
Saturday's gas blast at Yuanhua Coal Mine in Jixi, a city in
northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Three managers
responsible for the blast have been arrested, said local
On the same day, 32 miners were killed and 28 injured in a gas
explosion at Changyuan Coal Mine in Fuyuan, a county of Qujing in
Citing the Changyuan case, Li denounced the Qujing local
government for letting the mine continue production even after
being placed on the authorities' shutdown list.
The mine was ordered to be closed by SAWS and the Yunnan
provincial government at the beginning of this year. However, the
local government tried to deceive by shutting down another small
mine and claiming Changyuan was closed.
"It is like a story in the Arabian Nights," said Li.
"It is like replacing a person on the death list with another."
"The case illustrates how some local governments are willfully
flouting national safety regulations," he said.
The families of the 32 miners killed are to receive
compensation, according to local sources on Monday.
Each family will get 200,000 yuan (US$ 25,000). To date, 20
families have received the money while the other 12, most of them
in neighboring Sichuan Province or Chongqing Municipality, are to be paid
Li said a mixed inspection team from the Ministry of
Supervision, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the All China
Federation of Trade Unions was dispatched to Qujing after
discovering 23 such "replacements" there.
With the onset of winter, the soaring demand for coal to supply
heating has led to a spate of serious coal mine disasters.
Five colliery accidents occurring from October 24 to November 12
this year have killed 111 people in Shanxi Province, one of the
country's major coal production bases.
Li said three of the recent serious accidents occurred when
workers who should have come up as soon as there was a power cut
continued to stay underground; and the blasts occurred when supply
"How many lives do we have to lose before they learn from the
lesson?" he asked.
Li also pledged to get tough with coal mines inflating
production capacity to avoid closure as a nationwide campaign is
underway to shut down small mines. Many owners of small mines, in
collusion with local officials, exaggerate output figures.
Li said that government officials and agencies that help cover
up the true state of small coal mines would be severely
It is reported that more than 5,400 small mines have been shut
down; and Li urged local governments to speed up the process before
the 2010 deadline.
"Don't let some unscrupulous coal mine owners kill more people
in their last frenzy to make profit," he said.
(China Daily November 28, 2006)