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Thursday, November 30, 2006

China mine bosses jailed after blast

A Chinese court jailed two managers of a state-owned coal mine today for negligence two years after a gas explosion killed 166 miners, Xinhua news agency said.

The blast, one of the worst in China in decades, hit the Chenjiashan coal mine in Tongchuan in the northwestern province of Shaanxi just days after the pit had caught fire. Mine manager Liu Shuangming was jailed for five and a half years and his deputy and chief engineer, Wang Youjun, was jailed for five years, Xinhua said.

''After the fire was put out, (they) ordered the miners to risk their lives resuming production without sufficient safety measures,'' Xinhua said. ''Their action was extremely outrageous.'' China has the world's deadliest coal mining industry with fatal accidents almost on a daily basis as safety regulations are ignored and production is pushed beyond limits in the rush for profit.

Four coal mine accidents killed at least 88 people across the country just over the weekend. Nearly 6,000 coal miners died in about 3,300 floods, blasts and other accidents in 2005, and the death toll for the first 10 months of 2006 stood at 3,726.

Officials say small and privately run coal mines that fall short of safety standards account for most of the casualties, but large state-owned mines report the higher death tolls. A gas blast in a state coal mine killed 214 in the northeastern province of Liaoning in February 2005, while 171 died in a similar accident in Heilongjiang province last November.

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