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Mine Explosion Suspect Arrested

August 28, 2002

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BEIJING (AP) _ Police arrested a man on China’s most-wanted list in connection with a gold mine explosion that killed 46 workers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The suspect, Yang Hailong, is also accused of trying to cover up the severity of the accident by hiding the victims’ bodies, the report said.

Yang was detained Tuesday in the city of Zhaoyuan in Shandong province, 370 miles east of the site of the June 22 blast in Fanshi County in the northern province of Shanxi, the agency said.

Xinhua reported that Yang was allegedly responsible for the accident, which state-run media have said was caused by an electrical fire that ignited a cache of underground explosives. The 46 miners who died were ordered to keep working as flames raged around them, reports have said.

Yang was allegedly part of an attempted cover-up that involved secretly removing the miners’ bodies during the night, Xinhua said.

Police in Zhaoyuan and Fanshi County could not be reached by telephone late Wednesday for comment on the Xinhua report.

Explosions occur frequently in Chinese mines, which often lack basic safety equipment. More than 3,500 miners have been killed this year in explosions, floods and other mishaps.

Chinese officials have ordered thousands of mines closed, but the orders are often ignored by mine operators.

Update hourly