China sacks officials after mine blast left 22 missing

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China’s Shandong provincial authorities have sacked two top officials in the city of Qixia following Sunday’s explosion at a gold mine in the area that left 22 workers missing, state media reported on Friday.

The fate of the workers at Hushan mine remains unclear. Their communications system was damaged by the blast.

The Shandong provincial government decided to dismiss Qixia Communist Party Secretary Yao Xiuxia and Deputy Secretary Zhu Tao, who also served as mayor, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Li Bo, deputy mayor of Yantai, which oversees Qixia, would act as Qixia party secretary, CCTV added.

Li told a new conference on Wednesday the authorities would investigate and “severely punish” those responsible for the accident, which was not reported until 30 hours after the blast, denying rescue teams precious time to reach the workers.

The mine is operated by Shandong Wucailong Investment Co Ltd, which Zhaojin Mining describes as a “subsidiary of an associate.”

Zhaojin, China’s fourth-largest gold miner, has so far not commented publicly on the accident.

(By Tom Daly and Colin Qian; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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