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Mining company blamed for blast

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

08:49, September 11, 2012

Rescuers pause for a meal on Monday after a gas explosion stranded 11 miners underground at the Yongsheng Coal Mine in Dazhou, Sichuan province, on Sunday. (Xinhua/Li Qiaoqiao)

Government to check coal mines and close those with safty hazards

Poor management led to a coal mine accident that killed 45 people, the country's top safety watchdog said on Monday.

The State Administration of Work Safety also vowed to close poorly managed small coal mines and urged local governments to take stricter measures to ensure safety.

When the gas explosion occurred at about 5 pm on Aug 29 at Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua, Sichuan province, 154 miners were working in the coal mine. Forty-five people were killed, 54 injured and one missing, the administration said on its website.

According to the administration, the explosion was caused by poor management at the mine: The mine's ventilation system malfunctioned; it lacked gas sensors; explosives were stockpiled in the tunnels; and the mine reached an unauthorized depth.

Liu Yuntao, head of the accident investigation department of the State Administration of Work Safety, who led the investigation of the accident, told China Daily on Monday that the mine's three owners have been taken into custody and the victims' family members have been compensated by the company.

"The amount of compensation varied based on factors including the age of the miners," he said. "Some miners' families got more than 1 million yuan ($157,800) in compensation."

Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, criticized the mine company's disorderly management after the accident.

The administration is going to thoroughly check all coal mines nationwide, and the government will halt the production, or even close coal mines if serious potential safety hazards are found, Yang said on Wednesday.

Accidents in coal mines are not uncommon. On Aug 13, an explosion in a coal mine in Baishan, Jilin province, on Aug 13 killed 17 people, and 15 people were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in Pingxiang, Jiangxi province, on Sept 2, according to the administration.

More small coal mining companies with poor safety facilities will be merged with big companies to upgrade the safety equipment and increase profits, the administration said.

In another notice on its website on Monday, the administration pledged to establish a State-level platform by the end of 2015 to deal with emergencies at high-risk industries.

Under the plan, seven State-level and 14 regional-level coal mine rescue teams will be equipped with more advanced information technologies and rescue equipment.

Coal mine rescue teams nationwide handled 3,102 accidents in 2011, saving 8,751 lives, according to the administration.

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