Mine officials 'lied' about deaths

Updated: 2013-04-07 08:21

By Liu Mingtai in Changchun and Xu Wei in Beijing (China Daily)

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Officials at a coal mine in Jilin province that was rocked by two gas explosions in four days lied about the death figures in the first explosion on March 29, sources inside the provincial government said on Saturday.

Authorities said this week that a gas explosion at the Babao Coal Mine in Baishan's Jiangyuan district killed 29 miners and rescue workers and injured 13.

However, another seven deaths were confirmed in the explosion by an investigation team from the provincial government on Saturday, according to a statement by Jilin officials.

Three Tonghua Mining managers at the Babao Coal Mine were detained by the police. Four managers were suspended, and another was being investigated by authorities after the incident.

Sources inside the provincial government, who requested anonymity, told China Daily that the seven deaths were deliberately not reported. Jilin officials said they have formed a special team to investigate further.

According to a 2007 regulation by the State Administration of Work Safety, falsification of death figures in accidents can result in criminal penalties, including a fine of 60 to 80 percent of yearly income of the responsible party.

The mine saw two gas explosions on March 29 and April 2, which killed a total of 36 rescue workers and seven miners.

Ten people are still missing in the second explosion and their chances of survival are slim, local authorities said.

A statement by the State Administrations of Work Safety and coal mine safety said two explosions showed the coal mine "placed more emphasis on production than work safety, and were ineffective in detecting and handling hazards."

The second explosion came after a deputy manager at the mine dispatched a group of rescue workers to put out a fire, hoping to save the company from a loss of 1.8 billion yuan ($290 million), the Beijing News reported.

The provincial government ordered all coal mines in the province to halt production for inspections after the second explosion.

Contact the writers at xuwei@chinadaily.com.cn and liumingtai@chinadaily.com.cn.