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3 officials detained after fatal colliery blast

THREE officials have been detained and another two removed from their posts after a gas blast at a colliery in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality which killed 30 miners and injured 77 others on Saturday morning.

The project manager, chief engineer and the owner of the Tonghua Cola Mine were found to have violated operating rules after an initial investigation.

The two removed from their posts were the deputy general manager of work safety with Songzao C&E Co Ltd and the deputy general manager of Chongqing Chuanjiu Construction Co Ltd.

The accident happened at 11am at the mine in Anwen Town, Qijiang County, when 131 miners were working underground.

The injured are being treated in four hospitals and an emergency treatment center.

Three are critically ill and seven are said to be in a serious condition.

"The May 30 accident is a major safety accident caused by an illegal practice which violated the mining rules," Luo Lin, chief of the State Administration of Work Safety, said yesterday.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has set up a special investigation team to look into the explosion, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said that an excessive amount of explosives had directly triggered the accident. "Coal mine owners put the emphasis on accelerating construction instead of work safety," said Zhao.

"The mine's managers didn't evacuate workers in time," Xinhua quoted Zhao as saying.

Production capacity at the 50-year-old mine had been 300,000 tons per year but had been expanded to 600,000 tons, Xinhua said.


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