Home>News Center>China

Safety official owned mine; 18 killed in blast
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-28 00:10

The owner of an illegal small coal mine in which 18 miners died turned out to be a local official who is in charge of coal mining security, an investigation of a deadly coal mine explosion revealed.

A man consoles a woman whose relative was killed in the mine blast in this file photo taken on March 15, 2005. [newsphoto/file] 
Peng Guocai, the owner, and his brother, Peng Guicai, vice-manager of the group that owns the mine, are in custody in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and have been stripped of their Party memberships.

On March 14, a gas explosion in Xinfu Coal Mine in Qitaihe trapped 19 miners, resulting in 18 deaths.

The cause of the tragedy was an obvious lack of basic ventilation and necessary gas monitoring equipment in the mine, according to Wang Feng, director of the Heilongjiang Coal Production Safety Supervision Bureau.

"They still used primitive coal excavation methods there," Wang said.

"The operational excavation area of the mine is like a rat hole and lacks a basic gas monitoring system."

However, a more shocking truth began to surface recently as the investigation went on.

Peng Guocai, deputy director of the Production Safety Supervision Bureau in Taoshan District in Qitaihe, was found to be the true owner of the small local coal mine.

Although the mine was listed by the Heilongjiang Qitaihe Coal Industry Clean Coal Group as being State-owned, it was actually controlled by Peng alone.

In China, civil servants are forbidden to have their own businesses apart from their positions in State-owned departments.

"It is an extreme outrage," Lian Zhandong, deputy director of the Heilongjiang Supervision Department, told China Daily. "As an official in charge of production safety, Peng's activity showed that he deliberately broke the law."

According to Lian, Peng was also alleged of stealing State-owned property by illegally excavating coal from a big State-owned mine that is connected to his mine under the ground.

Peng Guicai -- Peng Guocai's brother, who was the vice-manager of the Group -- is also accused of shielding his brother during numerous mine safety check-ups.

Also, the total coal reserve of Peng's mine is just 60,000 tons, which means it should have been closed according to the State's regulation, Lian said.

However, with the help of his brother, Peng managed to register his mine as possessing a reserve of 170,000 tons.

Peng Guocai was also charged with non-co-operation and trying to conceal the explosion.

Qitaihe is one of the most important coal production bases in Heilongjiang Province.

Safety problems have been a constant problem haunting local coal production.

On May 11, another gas explosion in the city killed nine miners working underground.

  Today's Top News     Top China News

Nation ready as bird flu outbreak is stemmed



Private firms to compete for defence bids



Safety official owned mine; 18 killed in blast



Proposed bill to boost Chinese in US schools



China tries to prod US to lift quotas



China firm as US steps up yuan pressure


  China tries to prod US to lift quotas
  Nation ready as bird flu outbreak is stemmed
  Private firms to compete for defence bids
  Hu calls for common prosperity of ethnic groups
  Safety official owned mine; 18 killed in blast
  China dedicated to promoting partnership with Croatia - Hu
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  It is time to prepare for Beijing - 2008