Local Party boss investigated for corruption after Yunnan coal mine disaster kills 43

The former Party boss of Shizong county in the south western province of Yunnan is being investigated for alleged corruption following the deaths of 43 miners in a massive gas explosion on 10 November 2011, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The investigation by the provincial commission for discipline inspection reportedly found that Wang Jianzhong, then-Party chief of Shizong, had “allegedly violated discipline and laws” in his contacts with the owner of the Sizhuang coal mine.

Earlier reports in the official media said the Sizhuang mine had been operating without a license for more than one year after its permit was revoked by the local government. The head of China’s main safety watchdog, Luo Lin, described the mine's safety measures as "very poor" and blamed lax supervision by the local authorities. Four mine managers have now been detained, and four county coal mine safety officials are also under investigation for dereliction of duty, Xinhua said.

CLB’s research report on the coal industry in China, Bone and Blood, explains in detail exactly how the collusion between mine owners, local government and safety officials makes the enforcement of central government safety measures, in many mines, next to impossible.

Shizong county is in a resource-rich region near the Yunnan/Guizhou border, which witnessed several mine disasters last year. Although, the number of coal mine accidents and deaths in China has declined over the last five years, this has been largely due to the closure of small and unlicensed mines, the restructuring of the industry in the coal heartland of Shanxi, and the development of large modern mines in Inner Mongolia. However, the industry has been less well-managed in other provinces, especially in southwest and central China, where the bulk of recent accidents have occurred.
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