MAC: Mines and Communities

Two Government Officials Resign In Mine Scandal

Published by MAC on 2006-06-06

Two government officials resign in mine scandal

China Labour Bulletin

6th June 2006

Two government leaders in Shanxi, where a coal mine flooding has left 56 miners trapped and presumed dead after more than two weeks, have resigned, the local legislature said on 3 June.

The Standing Committee of the Zuoyun County People's Congress in Shanxi approved the resignations filed by Zhang Mingsheng, former head of the county government, and his deputy Shi Lu, who was in charge of local coal production, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Zhang has been removed from the post of deputy secretary of the Zuoyun County Communist Party Committee, and Shi was deprived of the membership in the county party committee. The disciplinary punishments came after mine managers attempted to cover up the extent of the fatal accident by reporting only five miners were trapped.

Reports said the mine management had rented taxis to transfer family members of the trapped miners to nearby Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to prevent them from speaking to the press.

Three officials of Zhangjiachang Town, where the mine is located, including Party Secretary Chang Rui and township head Liu Yongxin, have also been suspended from their posts. Wang Jinxing, a key figure responsible for the flooding tragedy who had fled, was captured on 3 June.

Police caught 35-year-old Wang in his home province of Henan in central China, wrapping up the manhunt for all the 11 key figures suspected of being responsible for the accident. Wang was labour contractor of a working team in the Xinjing Coal Mine. Initial investigation found that his workers drilled through a sealed area underground, and triggered the flooding. All the 22 miners of his team escaped from the shaft.

Another two officers of a neighboring mine, suspected of selling the geological maps to the owner of Xinjing, have also been detained by police.

The flooding occurred on 18 May when 266 miners were working underground and 210 of them managed to escape. Rescuers are still trying to find the 56 miners trapped underground. About 200,000 cubic meters of water have flooded the pit and more than half has been pumped out. The accident is the worst of its kind in China so far this year.

Sources: Xinhua News Agency (5 June 2006), Shanghai Daily (5 June 2006)

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