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China officials step down after mine accident

By Staff
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BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) Two vice governors of a Chinese province have resigned six months after a colliery flood killed more than 120 miners, the Beijing News said today.

The newspapers did not make a connection between the resignations and the accident in southern Guangdong, the deadliest since 212 people were killed in an explosion at a coal mine in northeastern China in February last year.

But one of the two, You Ningfeng, 60, had been given an ''administrative punishment'' by the State Council after the accident.

The second, Xu Deli, also 60, was elected a vice chairman of the provincial People's Political Consultative Conference, local media said today.

There were eight deputy governors of booming Guangdong, with You in charge of industry and safety work, among other responsibilities.

China's top work safety official was quoted at the time as saying that the latest in a string of mining disasters, at the Xingning coal mine, was a prime example of pit owners flouting safety laws to make money.

The mine was operating without a licence and in violation of local government orders to shut down for inspections after a July flooding at another pit in Xingning, Xinhua said.

The July accident claimed 16 lives.

''This is a typical case in which mine owners make money, miners lose their lives and the government pays the bill,'' Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration for Work Safety, was quoted as saying.

China has the world's deadliest coal mining industry. On Thursday, a pit explosion in eastern China killed 15 people, adding to a death toll from colliery floods, blasts and other disasters which killed nearly 6,000 people across the country last year alone.

REUTERS OM PC1653

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