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222 people punished for coal mine accidents
Updated: 2005-12-23 16:27

A total of 222 people were punished after being held responsible for six catastrophic coal mine accidents that occurred across China since November last year, the government announced in Beijing on Friday.

The central government investigation into and handling of the six major accidents. It said that 126 officials, including two vice provincial governors, received disciplinary penalties within the Party or the government, while 40 others were stripped of their administrative posts.

The State Council, China's cabinet, has decided to "record a demerit" for Gong Deshun, former vice governor of the northwestern Shaanxi Province, for his responsibility for a coal mine gas explosion on November 28, 2004 which killed 166 miners.

The State Council also decided to "record a severe demerit" for You Ningfeng, vice governor of the southern Guangdong Province, for a local coal mine flooding accident on August 7, 2004 which killed 121 people.

Gong and You are two of the 222 officials that received different disciplinary penalties for their roles in six major coalmine accidents across the country. Among them, 96 have been handed over to judicial departments for criminal investigation.

At a press conference jointly held by the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) and the Ministry of Supervision, SAWS Director Li Yizhong said the six major accidents had led to a total of 528 deaths.

By the end of November, a total of more than 665,000 accidents had been reported, killing more than 114,000 people. Li said.

In the six biggest mine disasters since November 2004, investigators concluded that local and provincial officials failed to enforce safety rules or colluded with mine bosses, said Li Yizhong, the director of China's industrial safety agency.

"We hope that all coal mines will learn from the bitter lessons these accidents have taught and will strengthen their safety precautions," Li said.

Aside from coal mines, China's fatality rate from other industrial accidents was falling, Li said.

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