'Bloody lessons' on safety must be learned

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-06 07:37

Poor planning not natural events was to blame for a spate of deadly accidents recently, safety chief Li Yizhong said.

In the latest major incident, 172 miners are still trapped underground nearly three weeks after floodwater inundated the Huayuan mine in Xintai, East China's Shandong Province. Rescue work is ongoing.

There have been 18 major accidents (with at least 10 people killed each) since July 18. Seven of these incidents have been triggered by natural events.

"The root is some local authorities and companies have failed to take sufficient action to tackle safety loopholes and build a sound early-warning mechanism," the chief of the State Administration of Work Safety said on Tuesday.

Learning from these "bloody lessons" will prevent "accidents triggered by natural disasters," Li said.

In a circular issued last Friday the State Council urged mines that risk being flooded to stop production when typhoons land or there is torrential rain.

The circular also asked mine owners to identify hidden natural dangers and remove them.

"We feel it is urgent to improve emergency rescue mechanisms and carry out more training and drills," Li said.

He cited two explosions at a natural gasfield in Kaixian County, Chongqing, which had very different outcomes.

The first incident killed 243 people in 2003. But in 2006, nobody was killed when there was a similar incident because emergency plans were in place and there had been drills.

The work safety situation in China is grim despite a decline in the death toll over the first eight months of this year, Li said.

Statistics showed 61,919 people were killed in various work accidents nationwide between January and August. This was 13.9 percent lower than over the same period last year.

The number of major accidents with 10 or more deaths during the same period has dropped by 14.7 percent year on year.

In response to the high number of fatal accidents the State Council Work Safety Committee has sent about 300 people, in 24 teams, to carry out safety checkups across the country, starting August 27 and ending September 20.

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