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The number of deaths in China's incident‐plagued coal mines surged by nearly 21 percent in the first 3 months of this year, despite a national safety crackdown, the country's top industrial safety official said in April.
Fires, cave‐ins and other incidents killed 1113 miners between January and March, up 20.8% over the same period in 2004, said Li Yizhong, the minister in charge of the State Administration for Work Safety. “Since the fourth quarter of last year, several particularly serious accidents have occurred, arousing widespread concern of the public,” Li said at a news conference.
In February, an underground explosion in northeast China killed 214 coal miners in the country's deadliest reported mine incident since the start of communist rule in 1949. Another incident in March killed 72 coal miners in northern China.
China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with thousands of deaths a year blamed on lack of required equipment or indifference to safety rules. Communist leaders have repeatedly promised to tighten standards, but an average of 16 miners are killed each day.
Li said China's cabinet and communist party leadership “have been placing great importance on issues regarding work safety”.
The agency “has been cracking down on all kinds of illegal mining operations and rectifying mines that fail to meet work safety standards,” he said. Efforts to shut down dangerous mines have been complicated by the country's soaring demands for power to drive its booming economy. The government has ordered emergency shipments of coal amid widespread blackouts, prompting mines to push their facilities beyond safe limits. Many smaller, unlicensed mines have reopened in response to the surging demand.
From chinadaily.com (http://chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005‐4/05/content_431458.htm). Contributed by John Langley.