|China takes steps to halt coal mine disasters(02/24/05)|
Liu Guoqiang, vice governor of northeast China's Liaoning Province and responsible for industry and work safety, was suspended from his post after 214 people were killed in last week's colliery gas explosion in the province, according to a decision made at the State Council meeting on Feb.23.
The meeting, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, was convened to work on measures to improve work safety in coal mines, where major accidents involving great casualty and economic losses have occurred with alarming frequency over the past year.
On Feb. 14, a gas explosion occurred at Sunjiawan colliery of Liaoning's Fuxin Coal Industry Group, leaving 214 dead out of 574 miners working at the time of the blast.
The State Council sent an investigation team headed by Supervision Minister Li Zhilun to the scene, and those responsible for the accident will be punished once the cause of the disaster is found out, according to the statement released following the meeting.
China's coal production picture was very grim, said the meeting's statement, which pointed out serious problems such as violation of safety standards and overproduction in some coal mines.
In order to intensify efforts in work safety supervision, officials at the meeting decided the State Administration of Production Safety, China's work safety watchdog, would be promoted to be the General Administration of Production Safety, and the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety would be put under its jurisdiction.
The decision instructs local governments to implement a system of assigning certain leading cadres to watch over work safety of collieries and all coal mines to strictly abide by safety production standards.
Three billion yuan (36 million US dollars) will be devoted to technological renovation on work safety, gas management in particular, at state-owned major coal mines, according to the decision.
To prevent major gas accidents, the government will also send safety supervision teams to 45 major coal mines with serious gas problems and invite colliery safety experts to evaluate safety situations in coal mines with potential danger and formulate specific prevention measures.
The meeting also heard a report by the National Forestry Bureauon desertification prevention and control and adopted a desertification prevention and control plan from 2005 to 2010.