Officials investigated for 172 deaths

Updated: 2007-09-07 23:56

XINTAI, Shandong -- Two senior officials from a mining company have been investigated over a mining disaster which left 172 miners dead in Xintai, East China's Shandong Province, the local government said on Friday.

"Zheng Zhenxiu, board chairman of the Huayuan Mining Co Ltd, and Zhang Canjun, the company's deputy general manager, have been investigated," according to the Shandong provincial government.

A group of life science experts believe "the trapped workers are not likely to return alive as the inundated mine was not fit for living."

However, rescuers are still busy pumping out water from the flooded mine on Friday after 21 days of searching in slight hope of making a miracle.

Flood water swept through a 65-meter-wide breach in the Wenhe River levee on August 17, inundating the Huayuan and Minggong mines in Xintai and trapping a total of 181 miners.

Huayuan Mining Co Ltd is a licensed enterprise with an annual capacity of 750,000 tons. The flooded mine was built in 1957.

Although the flooding had been considered as a natural disaster, Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, had also blamed some companies for not taking enough precautionary measures.

"Some local authorities and companies have failed to take sufficient actions to tackle safety loopholes and build a sound early warning mechanism," Li told a conference on work safety held in Beijing.

"Each of us should fully realize that the arduous and complicated work safety issue can't be addressed in a short period of time," he said.

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