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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 14:35 GMT
China crackdown on work accidents
Beijing's Olympic stadium, 12/01/08
Olympic officials have denied claims 10 people died at Beijing's stadium
Dozens of Chinese officials are to be prosecuted or punished over fatal accidents in the workplace - where 100,000 Chinese die each year.

Works Minister Wang Wei announced that prosecutors would consider cases against 78 managers and officials, and 105 had already been disciplined.

The move comes after inquiries into five incidents where 189 people died.

Meanwhile, officials say they are willing to investigate reports that 10 workers have died at an Olympic site.

Senior safety official Li Yizhong said those responsible would be punished severely if the claims - made by UK newspaper the Sunday Times - turned out to be true.

The newspaper cited unnamed witnesses to the deaths and also claimed that families had been paid to keep quiet.

Earlier, the organisers of the 2008 Olympics had denied the story.

'Loopholes'

China's work safety record is poor - Mr Li announced that more than 100,000 people die every year in workplace incidents.

"The death toll is still too big and the occurrence of major accidents has not been effectively curbed," Mr Li said.

"There is still uncertainty in work safety situations in some regions and industries and we also have many weaknesses and loopholes in our work."

But with the world's focus falling on China during the Olympics, officials are keen to avoid any controversy.

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