MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China executes ex-party boss for tin mine disaster

Published by MAC on 2004-02-24


China executes ex-party boss for tin mine disaster

Planet Ark (Reuters)

February 24, 2004

Beijing - China executed a Communist Party official for his role in the cover-up of a 2001 tin mine disaster that killed at least 81 people in the southwestern region of Guangxi, state television reported.

Wan Ruizhong, a former county party chief, was put to death for abuse of power, the report said. He had also taken bribes worth 3.21 million yuan ($387,800), the television added.

Wan's execution came two days after the Communist Party unveiled new rules to stamp out corruption in higher party ranks.

The 2001 mine-flooding accident went unreported for two weeks, prompting the government to issue shrill warnings on disclosing industrial mishaps and emboldening official media to work more independently to expose incidents.

After allegations emerged that mine bosses had tried to cover up the tragedy by bribing survivors to keep quiet and, on at least one occasion, by threatening journalists with weapons, Beijing sent a team to investigate.

Wan, the local county governor and another party official were all convicted of plotting to conceal the disaster at the state-owned Lajiapo mine.

Investigators found that the flood was a direct result of mismanagement and poorly conducted explosions. Wan's appeal was rejected by Guangxi high people's court. State television showed him on Friday looking resigned as sentence was passed.

The Lajiapo disaster prompted a government review of safety standards in the country's mines, which are some of the world's most deadly with thousands killed in accidents each year.


China Tin Mine Accident Traps 200

Guardian, July 30, 2001

Shanghai, China (AP) - Floodwaters quickly filled a tin mine in south China, trapping more than 200 miners below ground, a state-run newspaper said Monday.

Rescuers have found more than 70 bodies, the Shanghai Youth Daily said. The newspaper said it was unclear whether there were any survivors from the July 16 accident in Dachang, a village in the southern region of Guangxi.

If more than 200 miners are confirmed dead, the accident would be one of the deadliest in China this year.

Officials at the mine denied there was an accident. But a Dachang fire official, who would only give his surname, Hua, confirmed the accident took place.

He said firefighters were at the mine searching for survivors. He said he didn't know the numbers of dead or missing.

Miners apparently struck an abandoned well while digging a new shaft, the Shanghai newspaper said. It said water quickly filled the mine, cutting escape routes.

Rescuers were pumping mine shafts dry in an effort to reach any survivors, it said. Some bodies have been carried to the surface and identified by families.

The Shanghai Youth Daily said its reporter was at first blocked from approaching the mine as part of what it alleged was a cover-up of the accident. It said the mine owner paid at least $2,500 to families of the dead to dissuade them from talking to outsiders.

Last week, an explosion at a coal mine in the eastern province of Jiangsu left 105 dead or missing and feared dead.

China's mines are the world's deadliest, with explosions, floods, fires and other accidents killing thousands every year. Mines often lack adequate safety equipment and many operate illegally, sometimes employing inexperienced farmers.

The government has threatened stiff penalties for officials who fail to improve public safety. Accidents at mines, factories and public places killed 47,000 people in the first half of this year, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported last week.

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