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Team formed to probe Tunlan mining disaster

CHINA'S State Council, or the Cabinet, set up an investigation team yesterday to look into the Tunlan Coal Mine accident, which left 74 people dead and 114 injured on Sunday in north China's Shanxi Province.

Zhao Tiechui, deputy director of the team, gave a positive appraisal of the rescuers' work at a meeting yesterday morning.

Zhao said the rescue work had been efficiently organized, with provincial heads having set up rescue headquarters at the coal mine. The entire process had taken 224 people 16 hours to complete the rescue, which he called a very arduous task.

"Despite complicated disaster conditions, the rescuers achieved success in a relatively short time," said Zhao.

Three coal mine officials were removed from their posts after the accident, a source from the State Administration of Work Safety said on Monday. The officials were said to be the chief of the state-owned Tunlan Coal Mine, Yin Gencheng, the engineer-in-chief and a deputy chief in charge of work safety.

The accident occurred at about 2:20am on Sunday, while 436 miners were working underground at the mine, which belongs to the Shanxi Coking Coal Group. The mine is located in Gujiao City, about 50km from Taiyuan, the provincial capital.

The blast injured 114 miners, including 26 seriously. Most of the injured showed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, rescuers said.

The governor of Shanxi Province, Wang Jun, yesterday made an apology to victims and their families over the gas blast.

"The blast caused huge loss of life and property... We say sorry to the victims and their families," said the senior official.

The Shanxi provincial committee of the Communist Party of China and the provincial government have made a formal admission of error to the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and the State Administration of Work Safety, according to Wang.

Shanxi will start a one-year campaign on work safety at state-owned and collectively owned mines from March 1, he added.

Wang, who was appointed the head and Party chief of the State Administration of Work Safety in March last year, was elected as the °?governor of Shanxi Province in January.


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