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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 14:41 GMT
China acts over mining disaster
The Sunjiawan mine in Fuxin, China
Major accidents at Chinese mines have become commonplace
The vice-governor of China's Liaoning province has been suspended in connection with last week's mine disaster, in which 214 miners died.

Liu Guoqiang has been suspended until an investigation into the disaster is completed, state media reported.

The accident, in China's north-eastern city of Fuxin, was the most deadly reported mining disaster since the Communist Party took power in 1949.

China's rulers are increasingly keen to make local officials more accountable.

World's most deadly mining industry - 6000 killed in 2004
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Government did not disclose details of accidents until recently
World's most deadly mining accident took place in China in 1942 - 1,549 people died in Japanese-occupied Manchuria

Liu Guoqiang was in overall control of industrial safety in Fuxin when a gas blast 242m (794ft) underground ripped through the Sunjiawan colliery, a statement said.

The heads of the colliery and the regional Fuxin Mining Group will also face disciplinary action, China's Xinhua news agency reported without giving further details.

Mr Liu's suspension was announced after Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao chaired a special State Council meeting called in the wake of the last week's blast.

'Very serious'

In addition to the suspensions, a specialist unit to deal with safety issues in the country's coal mines is to be established.

It will work under the auspices of the State Administration for Work Safety, which will be upgraded by the government.

"The coal mine safety situation is very serious indeed," Xinhua reported the State Council as saying.

At least 6,000 people died in China's coal mines in 2004 alone, making Chinese mines the most dangerous in the world, although independent estimates indicate the total could be much higher.

Fatalities in Chinese mines account for about 80 per cent of the total deaths around the world.

Demand for power in China is soaring as the country's economy continues to expand, pressuring collieries to mine more coal.

There are fears that worker safety is being compromised amid a rush to increase coal production.

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26 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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