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A mine boss has been arrested by Chinese police after he smeared coal dust on his face to pretend he had been in the shaft where 34 miners died last week.
Under new laws designed to improve safety, mine bosses in China that don’t go underground with their workers face strict punishments.
Local news service The People’s Daily reported after the accident the mine’s deputy head Qi Guming had “rushed down the shaft and smeared coal on his face to pretend he had escaped from underground”.
The newspaper said the public security authority confirmed Qi had not been in the mine shaft on the day of the accident and had “made false claims to the rescue command office”.
The newspaper said Qi had been arrested on suspicion of faking evidence.
According to US ABC News the privately run Sizhuang Coal Mine in southwest China had been operating illegally and had its licence revoked a year ago.
Mine safety officials said last week a “coal and gas outburst” had trigged the accident, and according to state media nine miners are still trapped in the mine.
High levels of gas were reported to be hampering rescue attempts.
According to the Huffington Post China mine bosses that don’t accompany their workers underground face fines between 10,000 yuan ($US1,500) and up to 80 per cent of their income from the previous year.
They can also face a lifetime ban on mine supervision work.
Despite the Chinese Government working to improve regulation and safety in the industry, the country’s coal mines are the most dangerous in the world, with around six workers a day dying in 2010.