Chinese mine owner under investigation for silence

Chinese investigators have frozen the bank account of a mine owner in northwest China suspected of covering up a fatal accident that killed 12 people.

Government investigators in Shaanxi province launched an inquiry following local media reports claiming that owner He Mingshan used hush money to cover up a Sept. 15 accident at the Qifenggouxi Mine.

An underground explosion at the mine killed 12 miners and left two others injured.

According to Xinhua He initially told investigators that no accident had occurred. According to police, however, He paid compensation to the victim's families in an apparent attempt to quash the investigation.

Police officials froze He's personal bank account, the agency said, while the provincial Work Safety Bureau has ordered 35 local coal mines closed in a safety crackdown.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with explosions, floods and fires killing thousands of workers each year, the AP reports.

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