China Jails Coal Mine Managers for Accident that Killed 172

April 21, 2008

Two coal mine managers have each been sentenced to seven years in prison for their roles in an accident last August that left 172 miners dead, state media said.

Huayuan Mining Co. Chairman Zheng Zhenxiu and Deputy General Manager Zhang Canjun were found liable for the deaths in a flood at the mine in eastern China, the Beijing News said. The report did not specify the charges against the managers.

The local government and the mining bureau in Xintai in Shangdong province said they didn’t know about the case. No one from the Xintai Communist Party’s Propaganda Office answered the telephone Thursday. The newspaper said the two were sentenced in Feicheng, another city in Shandong.

The accident happened when heavy rains burst a dike that flooded the mine. The newspaper said the two managers were culpable for the deaths because they did not stop production and order the miners to evacuate.

Families of the miners said other mines in the area pulled their workers to the surface before the dike burst because of flooding fears. Nine miners died in another mine shaft nearby that also was flooded.

The Huayuan accident was the deadliest mining accident in China since 214 miners were killed in an explosion in Liaoning province in Feb. 2005. A mine accident in Datong in 1960 killed 684 miners.

The government has promised for years to improve mine safety, but energy-hungry China depends on coal for most of its power generation. China’s mining industry is the world’s deadliest, killing nearly 3,800 people last year.

Zheng’s lawyer said he would appeal the sentence, the paper said.

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