Officials sacked over central China mine fire

15:19, January 07, 2010      

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Five county and town level officials had been removed from office for failing to prevent a mine fire in central China's Hunan Province, a county official said late Wednesday night.

The fire broke out at 2 p.m. Tuesday, killing 25 at Lisheng Coal Mine in Tanjiashan town, Xiangtan county of Xiangtan city.

Head of Xiangtan Coal Mine Safety Supervision Bureau, Guo Pingyang, was one of the officials removed, said Yu Ye, an official with the Publicity Department of Xiangtan County Party Committee.

Hu Mingwei, vice county chief in charge of the coal mine safety, resigned, Yu said.

When the accident happened, more than 70 miners were working in the shaft. Forty-three managed to escape while at least 28 were trapped at the time. At least three more workers were still trapped in the mine.

Wang Shuhe, deputy chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, arrived at the site Wednesday to oversee rescue work and the investigation into the cause of the disaster.

"The officials are responsible for failing to detect and remove safety hazards which led to an underground cable fire in the mine," he said Wednesday.

Lisheng is a privately-run coal mine with 180 employees. The mine is presently being upgrading to double its annual output to 60,000 tonnes.

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