MAC: Mines and Communities

Shanxi mine managers detained after 57 feared trapped in flooded mine

Published by MAC on 2006-05-25

Shanxi mine managers detained after 57 feared trapped in flooded mine


25th May 2006

Nine managers of a coal mine in Shanxi province have been detained for trying to conceal the scale of a flood in the mine and the number of miners trapped underground, in what the top work safety official in China described as "the worst disaster" this year.

The mine management and local safety officials first reported that only five miners were trapped when the accident happened on the evening of 18 May at Xinjing Coal Mine in Zuoyun County, northern Shanxi. They said 145 miners were working underground when the accident took place and 101 miners managed to escape.

But rescuers and work safety officials later discovered on the morning of 20 May that the number of miners trapped in the mine was 44.

Later on the same day after the officials interviewed the miners' families, they found out that the number might be as high as 57. Director of State Administration of Work Safety Li Yizhong said the accident was the "worst mine disaster" this year, and added that the attempts by the mine owners and managers to cover up the scale of the accident would have "a very bad effect." Li made the comments after traveling to Zuoyun County together with an investigation team two days after the accident occurred.Xinhua reported that nine managers of the mine had been detained by the police, but the mine owner had fled.

The official news agency also reported that some mine managers had hired taxis to transfer some miners' families to a remote area in nearby Inner Mongolia to prevent them from starting riots and speaking to the press.

Xinhua said the Xinjing Coal Mine is a legal private coal mine, with a licensed annual output of 90,000 tonnes, while the South China Morning Post reported that the mining company's actual output was more than 10 times that level.

Sources: South China Morning Post (22 May 2006), Xinhua News Agency (21 May 2006), Mingpao (22 May 2006)

With thanks to China Labour Bulletin, Hong Kong

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