Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Dozens charged in China mine disaster 'cover up'

Rescue workers search for survivors at a mine in Hegang City, Heilongjiang province (21 Nov 2009)
Deadly accidents are common in China's mining industry

China has charged nearly 60 people with covering up a deadly mine disaster just weeks before last year's Olympic Games, the state-run China Daily has said.

The July 2008 accident in Hebei province, near Beijing, killed 34 miners. News of it was suppressed for nearly three months, China Daily said.

Officials are alleged to have moved bodies, destroyed evidence and bribed journalists to hush up the disaster.

Relatives of the miners were kept quiet with threats and "large payments".

The charges result from an investigation ordered by China's State Council, or cabinet, China Daily said.

In total, 10 journalists and 48 government and mining officials have been charged.

The 10 journalists were paid $380,000 (£230,000) to not report the disaster, the report said.

The miners were killed in an explosion at the Lijiawa mine in Yuxian county, Hebei province, on 14 July last year.

The Yuxian county government allegedly took out expensive advertisements in the newspaper of one of the journalists charged.

China's mines are notoriously dangerous. The central government has made improving safety standards a priority, but rules are often ignored in favour of profit as the economy has boomed.

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