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China web users slam nation's mine safety amid Chile rescue

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 13, 2010
Internet users in China slammed the country's notoriously bad mine safety record on Wednesday as across the world in Chile, the historic rescue of 33 miners trapped underground for 68 days unfolded.

"Lucky people who were born in Chile... If it was us, we would definitely have been buried alive and died," one user said on popular web portal

"Chile's rescue operation has humiliated China. Think about it, so many Chinese workers die in mining disasters," added another.

The first of 33 workers trapped underground in Chile for a record 10 weeks were pulled out Wednesday in scenes broadcast live around the world, including on Chinese state television.

The Asian nation's mining sector is notoriously dangerous -- last year, 2,631 miners were killed, according to official statistics, but independent labour groups say the true figure is likely to be much higher.

The high fatality rate is generally blamed on inefficiency and corruption in the sector, with coal mining particularly accident-prone. In some cases, officials have been accused of covering up the real number of victims.

Even when 115 miners were rescued from a flooded mine in northern China in April, relatives complained they had initially been kept in the dark as to whether their loved ones were part of that lucky batch or the 38 who died.

"We know who every person rescued is when they come up (in Chile), it's so transparent. In China, it's just not comparable," one web user from the central city of Changsha said on web portal

"China's leaders spend all their time in hotels, brothels, bars and banks, so where do they find the time to look after the lives of ordinary people and workers?" another netizen said on Sohu.

The government regularly pledges to clean up safety problems in its mines.

In July, Premier Wen Jiabao lamented the nation's "serious" work safety situation, ordering mining bosses to work side-by-side with workers in the pits to ensure that companies more closely observe safety rules.

However deadly accidents are still routine.

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