Mine deaths down; corruption hurting safety efforts
Updated: 2006-12-21 14:11
The death toll is down in China's accident-plagued coal industry, but local
officials who collude with bosses of dangerous mines are hurting safety efforts,
government officials said in Beijing Thursday.
Dozens of officials have been
punished for corruption or negligence in fatal accidents in the past year, said
Li Yizhong, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety.
Li Yizhong, minister of the State Administration of Work
Safety, speaks at a press conference on China's mining safety efforts in
Beijing December 21, 2006. [china.com.cn]
is corruption involved in the accidents," Li said at a news conference.
Li said the death toll in coal mine accidents so far this year is down
21 percent, though he didn't give a number of deaths.
Some 6,000 Chinese
miners were killed last year in fires, floods, cave-ins and other disasters
despite repeated official promises to improve safety. Many deaths were blamed on
managers' indifference to safety rules or lack of required equipment.
Investigations of the deadliest mine accidents last year found that many
were due to the failure of officials to enforce safety standards, Li said. He
said some took bribes or illegally owned shares in mines they were supposed to
"Some government officials colluded with owners," he said.
"Also, some local governments developed countermeasures against policies from
higher levels and acted as protectors of illegal activities."
such a large country, and a developing one at that, with 1.3 billion people and
is in a rapid pace of industrialisation, so accidents happen easily and cannot
be avoided," he added.
"In the next 10 or 20 years, it will be a
development opportunity period as well as a time for very obvious
contradictions," said Li, who admitted he felt a heavy burden in dealing with
China's horrendous safety issues.
"The situation is generally stable and
improving, but still serious. I have to say both of these sentences," he said.
"We will not be successful overnight."
In a report on China's seven
deadliest mining accidents and four other industrial disasters since late 2005,
Li said 45 officials were fired and 117 prosecuted for corruption, dereliction
or other offenses.
Those punishments, many of them reported earlier,
included the firing of two deputy provincial governors.
accident in the report was a November 2005 mine explosion in the northeastern
town of Qitaihe that killed 171 miners after coal dust caught fire.
report Thursday said six managers of the Qitaihe mine and two local officials
were prosecuted but did not give details.
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