China reports sharp rise in deaths from major coal mine

More than 6,000 people died in accidents in China's coal mines and petroleum industries last year, with the proportion of those killed in major disasters rising sharply, the government reported Friday.

The total number of fatalities from 3,341 coal mine explosions, fires and floods was 5,986, nearly level with the 6,027 people killed in 2004, the National Development and Reform Commission said in reports issued on its Web site.

However, the number killed in major coal mine accidents jumped 60 percent to 3,586, it said.

Meanwhile, the agency reported that 60 people died in 161 accidents in petroleum and petrochemical operations, up 29 percent from a year earlier.

The government has made improving work safety a policy priority for years, but has fallen far short of its goals for reducing the number of accidents as mines and factories have ramped up production to meet surging demand from China's booming industries.

The 0.7 percent decline in coal mine deaths last year fell far short of the government's goal for last year of reducing coal mine fatalities by at least 3 percent. Work safety officials recently announced their goal for cutting deaths in 2006 was 3.5 percent, but said reaching that target would be difficult, reports the AP.


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