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11 officials under investigation over N. China mine blast that killed 105
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19:29, December 21, 2007

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Eleven officials are under investigation over a coal mine gas blast that killed 105 miners and injured 18 others in north China's Shanxi Province earlier this month.

The eleven, comprising officials with the local safety watchdog and land resources bureau, are accused of dereliction of duty and taking bribes from the coal mine by the procuratorates of Linfen City and Hongtong County.

Shi Jiqing, safety chief in Hongtong, is accused of accepting bribes totaling 4,000 yuan (540 U.S. dollars) from the coal mine owner and turning a blind eye to its safety loopholes.

Shi Xiliang, the former head of Hongtong County's land bureau, allegedly protected the problematic coal mine after accepting from the mine owner a bribe of 40,000 yuan (5,400 U.S. dollars) and gifts, such as cigarettes and liquors.

Another three officials with the safety supervision bureau in Hongtong County, Qiu Hongxiong, Fu Huawei and Zhang Zeping, have been accused of dereliction of duty, which contributed to the coalmine disaster.

Chinese police arrested 13 people alleged to be responsible for the fatal gas explosion.

The explosion occurred on Dec. 5 at Xinyao Coal Mine in Shanxi Province, when 128 miners were working in the shaft, far more than the maximum of 60 miners for one shift as approved by the Shanxi coal mine authority.

Source: Xinhua

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