October 9, 2008

Three Officials Ousted for Coal Mine Accidents in North China

Three officials ousted for coal mine accidents in north China

SHIJIAZHUANG, Oct.8 (Xinhua) -- The Hebei provincial government on Wednesday said three officials in Tangshan City have been fired in light of two coal mine accidents which killed 22 people.

Among them was Han Guoqiang, a deputy chief of the government of the Guye District. The names of the other two people held responsible have not been released, however, Xinhua learned one served as chief of the government of the township where the two coal mines were located. The other was a township government deputy in charge of coal mine safety.

On Aug. 27, workers with a coal yard, based in Wushuizhuang Village, illegally dug into a coal reserve owned by the state using an underground tunnel. That tunnel collapsed and killed nine workers.

Then on Sept. 5, an explosion at Xinhua coal mine, also in the Guye District, killed 13 more miners.

Acting Governor Hu Chunhua said Hebei province has serious problems with work and food safety. Along with the mines, Sanlu dairy company is headquartered there. It has been implicated with China's contaminated milk scandal.

"We should step up responsibility," said Hu."Chief leaders and responsible persons will not receive mercy if major safety accidents occur in their domains due to under-performance or negligence of duty." Before Wednesday's firings, China's top quality control official, Li Changjiang, resigned Sept. 22 over the tainted milk scandal.

Eight days before Li's resignation, Shanxi Province Governor Meng Xuenong resigned over a fatal landslide at an illegal mine.

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