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Officials face penalties over accidents that killed hundreds

MORE than 100 officials, including railway minister Liu Zhijun, have been punished over five train and mine accidents that left several hundred people dead.

A total of 169 officials have been disciplined, and 131 people responsible for the mishaps were referred to judicial departments for criminal prosecution, China Central Television reported yesterday.

Liu received an administrative punishment that could affect his chances for future promotion as a result of a train collision that killed 72 and injured 416 on the Jiaozhou-Jinan Railway in Shandong Province in April last year.

Six people responsible for the accident, including the deputy director of the Jinan's railway bureau, were prosecuted.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, also gave an administrative punishment to Liu's deputy, Hu Yadong, while 29 others, including former bureau director Chen Gong, received sanctions from the central government. Chen was dismissed from duty.

The crash was China's worst rail accident in a decade. It involved the Beijing-Qingdao high-speed passenger train T195 that was traveling at 131 kilometers per hour on a section with a speed limit of 80kph before the accident on April 28, 2008.

The train failed to negotiate a bend, and several cars at the end of the train derailed and were thrown onto another track, where they were hit by another train.

Two top officials of the Jinan bureau, director Chen Gong and bureau Party chief Chai Tiemin, were sacked just hours after the accident.

Meanwhile, 90 people were referred to prosecutors and punishments were handed to dozens of high-ranking officials for two mining accidents that killed 382 people in Linfen City, Shanxi Province, last year.

Several former Party secretaries and officials in Linfen City were sacked, demoted or warned.

A mine collapse on September 8 in Linfen's Xiangfen County left 277 dead, four missing and 33 injured. Xiangfen's Party secretary, county chief, the chief engineer of Shanxi's land and resources department, and a vice director of Shanxi's work safety watchdog were referred to prosecutors for criminal charges.

A gas explosion on December 5 at a coal mine in Linfen's Hongtong County killed 105 miners and injured 18 others. Both the investor and legal representative of the mining company were sentenced to life in prison. A former vice mayor of Linfen was sent to prison for 14 years.

Two other accidents - a blast on June 13 in Shanxi's Luliang and a fatal fire on September 20 in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province - killed 66 in total. Officials responsible for the accidents, including two vice mayors, received punishments.


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