May 09th, 2011 | China Daily Watchdog snaps into action over cover-ups of coal mine accidents
The country’s work safety authorities have vowed to crack down on coal mine accident cover-ups, which are now rampant in the industry.
The Work Safety Committee under the State Council, revealed in a statement on Friday the attempts to cover-up six major coal mine accidents that killed a total of 42 miners since April.
Five of the accidents were investigated after local work safety departments received tip-offs, while the other was reported to the safety watchdog after a day’s delay.
The cover-ups included removing the dead miners’ bodies from mines and forging the miners’ shift logs.
Covering up mine accidents is a crime in China, which usually leads to jail terms of up to seven years and the committee said it will supervise the handling of all the six cases by local governments.
Cover-ups of coal mine accidents are said to be common in Southwest China’s Yunnan province, Xinhua News Agency reported over the weekend.
Since September 2010, a total of 29 miners had been killed in nine mine mishaps that the mine owners had tried to hide from the local governments in the cities of Qujing and Zhaotong, according to the report.
On April 15, a gas blast left 12 dead and three injured at the Yangmeishan Coal Mine in Xuanwei under the administration of Qujing. The mine owner had conducted the cover-up with the help of the local township department in charge of regulating coal mining, said Zhang Chunsheng, deputy chief of the Yunnan administration of coal mine safety.
Lu Erchang, the mine’s owner, confessed to local police that he had directed his daughter to make a payment of one million yuan ($154,000) in hush money to the family of each dead miner in addition to 680,000 yuan in compensation. As a result, the families rejected autopsy requests from the police, saying that the miners had died from diseases.
The mine’s owner was also found to have acquired the help of the local regulatory body to remove the bodies of four dead miners, forge their shift logs and destroy some related materials, said Zhang.
The miner owner and the township’s regulatory department chief and deputy chief are being held by local police.
By Yan Jie