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12 China officials jailed for deadly landslide

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Chinese court has jailed 12 officials for a mine accident last year that triggered a landslide which swept through a northern village and killed at least 277 people, an official said Sunday.

The officials were sentenced to one to five years on charges of negligence and abuse of power, said an official with the Xiangfen county government in Shanxi province who would only give his surname. Li said he had no further details.

The Sept. 8 disaster in Shanxi underscored two major public safety concerns in China: the failure to enforce protective measures in the country's notoriously deadly mines, and the unsound state of many of its bridges, dams and other aging infrastructure.

The collapse of an illegal mining dump unleashed a wave of mud and mining waste that inundated a valley in Xiangfen. The landslide occurred just as morning customers were arriving at a busy outdoor market near a village of more than 1,000 residents.

An investigation after the accident showed the dumping reservoir was built in violation of regulations and had almost no safety inspections.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the jailed officials included seven who worked for the county's land and resources administration; one land and resources administration official for the city of Linfen, which oversees Xiangfen; one environmental protection official; and three township officials. The governor of Shanxi resigned and his deputy was fired.

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