Guizhou Province Officials Abandon Trapped Miners

By Fang Yuan, Radio Free Asia
May 16, 2006 Updated: May 16, 2006

Refusal by the Yindi Town government to aid three workers trapped in the after explosions of a local mine accident drew enormous criticism. There is growing debate among residents of Yindi Town in Bijie City, Guizhou Province, where the mine accident occurred. On Monday, Hong Kong's Apple Daily reported that the gas explosion, which occurred on January 23, 2006, was caused by the owner of this unregistered coalmine pumping out water with an electric motor. The motor sparked and resulted in a gas explosion. The owner fled, leaving four workers still trapped in the mine.

On the next morning, Bejie City government officials rushed to the scene, but refused to initiate rescue efforts and forbade any rescue attempts by family members. Two days later, a member of the Liupanshui City emergency squad found the body of a worker near the mine entrance. The bureau still refuses to allow anyone into the mine to search for the other three victims.

A Yindi Town official informed the media that experts have investigated the scene and believe that it is dangerous to attempt any rescue efforts.

Emergency squad engineer, Yang Hongyuan, told Apple Daily that safety would not be an issue if the government provided the necessary equipment and 200 men. Since local government refused to provide these, the emergency squad was unable to enter the mine.

Two days later, the local government decided to blast the mine, but postponed this action because of pleads from the victims' families. Still, nobody was sent in to search for the victims. Finally, family members gathered about 100 people to go into the mine and search for their loved ones on February 6, 2006. However, on February 10, the Bijie City government sent out 40 security personnel to beat and drive family members away from the mine. Afterwards, they used 120 kilograms of chemicals to blast the mine.

A Yindi police station joint defense spokesperson told reporters that this incident had indeed occurred, but he did not know the details, except that the rescuers were unable to find the lost miners.

An official of the local government said that the mine owner fled, so the victim's families were unable to receive compensation. When asked why the mine was blasted regardless of the miners' safety, he claimed that he did not know.

Chenxi, a resident in Guizhou Province, said that the local government blasting the mine without knowing whether the victims were still alive was a clear demonstration that they could care less about the workers' lives. Even if they were unable to rescue them, they should have brought the bodies out. The actions of the local government filled him with grief.

Chenxi said, “I feel that this is a barbaric society, which is an expression of inhumanness. These inhumane incidents can only happen with such severity in a place where politics and commerce are intertwined. The way this situation was handled by the bureau showed their lack of duty to the working people and the public. I am deeply distressed.”