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Officials punished after China mine accidents
Published on: 2009-09-11
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BEIJING — Chinese authorities have taken action against 13 officials and managers after two mining accidents this week in central Henan province left at least 57 people dead, state media said Thursday.

So far, 44 people have died and 35 are still trapped underground after a gas explosion at a coal mine on Tuesday in Pingdingshan city, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Rescue operations were ongoing, it said.

On Wednesday, 13 people, including miners and rescue personnel, were killed when a fire erupted at a gold mine in the city of Sanmenxia.

In Pingdingshan, three mine officials have been detained and two local officials sacked, Xinhua said. The city's 157 mines have been shut down pending a safety review.

Three of the 14 workers who managed to escape the mine were in intensive care at a local hospital, the agency said.

Following the gold mine fire in Sanmenxia, which started when a partial cave-in short-circuited some electrical wires, four local officials were suspended, three mine managers sacked and one official detained, Xinhua reported.

China's coal mines are among the most dangerous in the world, with safety standards often ignored in the quest for profits and the drive to meet surging demand for coal -- the source of about 70 percent of China's energy.

Official figures show that more than 3,200 workers died in collieries last year, but independent labour groups say the actual figure could be much higher, as many accidents are covered up in order to avoid costly mine shutdowns.

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