The Party Secretary and county head in Pingyi, Shandong, have both been dismissed in the wake of the 25 December gypsum mine collapse in the county which left one miner confirmed dead and 17 still trapped underground five days later.
The mine collapse, the cause of which is still under investigation, came just two months after an explosion at a chemical plant in the same county on 21 October, which killed nine workers and injured two others.
The dismissals (four senior county officials in total) came three days after the owner of the gypsum mine reportedly jumped into a flooded mine shaft and died. Ma Congbo, the chairman of Yurong Co, which owns the mine, was reportedly helping with the rescue effort when he drowned himself early on Sunday, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, a court in another Shandong county, Lijin, has sentenced the chairman and general manager of Binyuan Chemicals, Li Peixiang to six years imprisonment for his role in the 31 August explosion in Dongying, which killed 13 people, injured dozens of others, and resulted in economic losses of 43 million yuan. The company official in charge of work safety was also sentenced to two years in jail.
Explosion at Dongying chemical plant 31 August
Penalties for individuals and companies responsible for workplace accidents were substantially increased in December 2014, when China revised the Work Safety Law, with the maximum fine for exceptionally serious incidents rising to 20 million yuan.