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A man in charge of 34 dead miners and nine trapped has been detained in China on Monday. Associated Press reported that Qi Guming, the boss that oversees the Sizhuang Coal Mine, smeared coal on his face in order to appear as if he was in the mine with his employees. In China, bosses can receive “severe punishments” if caught not working underground, according to the report.
A gas leak at the Sizhuang Coal Mine in the Yunnan province trapped the workers on Monday. According to The People’s Daily, after the accident, Guming rushed down to the mine, while smearing coal on his face. ’On Sunday the public security authority confirmed that Qi did not go down the shaft on that day, and made false claims to the rescue command office,’ as Xinhua News Agency reported.
Guming was deputy head of the coal mine and was taken into custody “on suspicion of faking evidence, citing a briefing by the rescue command office,” according to the report. The new regulatory laws in China were created last year in order to increase safety in mine shafts. The laws state that if the shafts break any of the rules, they could pay between 150,000 and 5 million yuan ($22,400 and $750,000) in fines.
The bosses themselves could face further costs, including almost 80 percent of their income from the previous year as well as a lifetime ban of mine supervision work, according to the news release by the Associated Press. The Sixhuang site was functioning illegally, after the license was revoked in April, according to Xinhua.
This coal mine accident is the second this month to produce a high fatality number. On Nov. 4, a mine blast in the Henan province, trapped more than fifty workers. China relies on coal to provide the nation with over 70 percent of its energy, according to a BBC news report. It also is one of China’s main exports, accounting for $43.2 billion worth of inorganic and organic chemicals in 2010.
According to the World Coal Association, 620 of the world’s 2,300 coal-fueled power stations are located in China. China has 18,557 coal mines. 95 percent of which are located underground, while the remaining five is opencast. In 2009, three of China’s businesses ranked in the top ten coal producers of the world. The highest grossing company out of China was Shenhua Group, which produced 254 million tons of coal, according to World Coal Association.