Andrey Krushinsky: China’s fugitive mine owners arrested

A series of blasts in the mines of China’s northern Shanxi province (PRAVDA.Ru reported about them on Saturday) was followed with a series of arrests and dismissals. For instance, several party and bureaucratic officials of the district were dismissed from their positions and several mine owners were arrested. The arrests took place far from the sites of the tragedy, for the owners of the mines in which the explosions happened did not want to wait for the probes to start and escaped.

There were five explosions within ten days. For the time being, it is known that two mine owners have been arrested. One of them, Meng Yi, surrendered himself. His mine, Daqiao, was the first one in which an explosion happened. He realized his responsibility for the death of 24 miners and tried to hide together with the chief of the mine, but then they decided to “show up” and acknowledge their guilt. The guilt of another mine owner, An Jin, is weighed down with two circumstances, which lead to a very severe sentence, no matter if the United Nations Human Rights chief Mary Robinson likes it or not.

First of all, an explosion took place in his mine, Daquanwan, on November 17, which was after the local authorities had already ordered work to stop in small mines and to review the issue of safety in them. An Jin ignored that order, since the heating season started in China and the coal price rose a bit. Anyway, it was a bad decision to make, for it led to another, third explosion (two more followed it in the mentioned Shanxi province).

Secondly, the owner of the mine was trying to escape at the moment when there were 14 miners buried under the ground and 12 of them were most likely alive there: it was possible to establish a phone connection with them several times. An Jin cowardly left the people who suffered because of him and who died because of him. It is possible to say that due to the news published in the Chinese press, there are no hopes left to save those 14 miners. Ninety-nine miners died in the Shanxi province just within ten days of November.

An Jin was found in the town of Shengjin, which is near Zhangjiakou, the administrative center of the Hebei province. The only thing that he could say as an excuse during the trial was that it was “the principles of the market economy,” that made him not close the mine he was ordered so.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

AP photo: Rescuers prepare to enter the collapsed Qiaojiagou coal mine to save those who are buried inside at Zhongyang County in China's north Shanxi province Thursday, Nov. 22, 2001

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