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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
China subway collapse 'cover-up'
Rescue operations at tunnel cave-in site
Hopes have faded for the missing workers
A Chinese newspaper has accused a state-owned company of trying to cover up an accident in a Beijing subway tunnel which left six workers missing.

The Beijing Times said the company had waited eight hours before officially reporting Wednesday's accident while it carried out its own rescue operations.

It also accused the company of removing workers' mobile phones to prevent word leaking out after the tunnel collapsed.

State TV said hopes of finding the missing workers have now faded.

'Palpable anger'

The paper said police first learned of the accident after a construction worker from nearby Henan province secretly called police in his hometown, who relayed the information to Beijing.

Ten people, including the supervisor and designer of the tunnel, have been detained.

A labour contractor working for the company, China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co Ltd, is said to have fled.

"Workers' anger was palpable," China's Xinhua news agency said.

"Signs showing the construction company's logo were defaced at the construction site."

Beijing officials told Xinhua that rescue work had been delayed by the company's alleged cover-up attempts and the complicated underground conditions.

An investigation into the cause of the accident has begun.

Olympic link

The tunnel is being built in the Haidian university district of north-west Beijing.

The collapsed section covered an area of about 20 square metres (215 square feet) and was about 11m (36ft) deep.

The station where the cave-in happened will be part of a line crossing northern Beijing, with a stop at the Olympic Village.

The 25km (15-mile) line has experienced several floods and cave-ins in the past - with workers killed in a collapse last June.

China's State Council has recently ordered a crackdown on the dishonest reporting of accidents and called for harsher punishments for those who make false reports or hide after an accident.

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