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25 officials punished over mine accident cover-up in north China
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Hebei Province in north China has punished 25 Communist Party and government officials involved in covering up a mine accident that killed at least 30 people in July, the provincial head said Tuesday.

Li Hongxing, party chief of Yuxian County, where the accident took place, and Qi Jianhua, the county head, were sacked and investigated, according to Hu Chunhua, acting governor of Hebei.

Another 23 officials of various administrative departments were also under investigation.

The accident happened at 8:30 a.m. on July 14 in Lijiawa Coal Mine of the county. Some explosives illegally stored in the pit blast off, killing more than 30 miners.

The mine owners hid the victims and their family members, silenced them with money or by threatening. Some township and county officials had collaborated with the mine owners to disguise the tragedy, according to investigation.

The mine had been operating for a long time without any legal license, Hu said.

He called on officials of all levels in the province to take a lesson from the vital safety accident.

Further investigation in the tragedy is underway.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2008)

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