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Home >> China
UPDATED: 11:31, August 16, 2005
Probe into coal mine flooding under way
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At least 121 miners remain trapped at the Daxing Coal Mine in Xingning, Guangdong Province, after one more body was recovered Monday morning, local officials confirmed.

Early on Wednesday last week, the first body, from a total of 123 trapped, was recovered.

With the recovery of the two bodies, experts said Monday that the hopes of finding anymore survivors were almost zero.

In spite of this, the rescue operation was stepped up Monday as local officials said "if there is still hope, no matter how slim, we will spare no efforts in rescuing the trapped miners."

A number of local officials were reportedly found to have close personal connections with the Daxing Coal Mine during an overall investigation on the cause of the mine disaster, which is still under way.

Sources with the China Business Times said Monday that Zeng Yungao, the owner of the Daxing mine, is believed to have handed out some 1.5 billion yuan (US$185 million) worth of stock shares as bribes to some local officials over the last few years.

However, the local government refused to comment on the report Monday.

The report said that in 1997, Zeng bought himself a post in the local police force and was then named as an outstanding entrepreneur in Meizhou, Guangdong Province.

Zeng fled after the mine flooded last week and then tried to spend some 300 million yuan (US$36.9 million) on a cover-up attempt.

However, his plot failed after the Central Discipline Inspection Commission was involved in the investigation.

Dozens of local officials have also been questioned, including one policeman who reportedly had 29 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in assets, despite earning only a few thousand yuan a month.

The report added that since becoming owner of the Daxing mine in 1999, Zeng had earned about 200 million yuan (US$24.7 million) a year. He also allegedly used his influence to bribe local officials to take stakes in the mine.

The initial investigation said some local officials' personal relationships with the Daxing mine had suggested a possibility of the local government's tolerance of overproduction, mismanagement and safety-supervision lapses, which are believed to have led to the flooding, according to Li Zhilun, one of the chief investigators.

Source: China Daily

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