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. China work, road accidents kill nearly 80,000 since January

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 6, 2007
China said Tuesday that 79,000 people died in industrial and road accidents in the first 10 months of this year, but claimed progress had been made in improving notoriously weak safety standards.

The death toll marked a drop of nearly 14 percent over the same period last year, Li Yizhong, work safety minister, said in a speech reported on his administration's website.

More than 419,000 road and workplace accidents were recorded from January to October, down 22 percent on the same period last year, he said.

China's roads and industries are considered among the most dangerous in the world, but Li insisted the State Administration of Work and Safety, which oversees both areas, was making strong efforts to improve safety.

"An atmosphere of taking care of lives and paying attention to safety is building up across the country," he said in Monday's speech.

Since January, accidents and fatalities in coal mines were down 20 percent and 19 percent respectively, leading to 3,069 deaths.

Road accidents were down 15.6 percent and fatalities dropped 12.4 percent during the period, Li said, without giving figures.

Government statistics show more than 89,000 people died on the roads last year, equivalent to about 245 every day. That figure was down 9.4 percent on 2005.

But according to the World Health Organization, the government could be massively under-reporting road deaths as official figures largely come from police reports and not hospitals or clinics.

Official figures show more than 4,700 coal miners died in China last year, but independent labour groups say many accidents are covered up and the real death toll is closer to 20,000 a year.

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