BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) has called for a thorough investigation of major state-owned collieries to locate hidden safety risks and prevent fatal accidents.
Li Yizhong, head of the SAWS, made the call at a national teleconference on production safety on Monday. The meeting was held following a fatal coal mine accident that occurred on Saturday, which claimed 22 lives and left seven other missing in northeast China's Liaoning Province.
Li said that lack of preventative measures and carelessness were to blame for the accident in Laohutai Coal Mine in Fushun City.
He called on relevant government departments and coal mine administrators to be on high alert as most of the coal mines have only just resumed production after the Spring Festival, during which nearly 90 percent of the country's coal mines stopped production.
"It is a critical time because fatal accidents were reported in the corresponding period in the past," Li warned. "Some people slacken their vigilance at such a time."
According to SAWS, all coal mines should go through examinations and obtain approval from governing bodies and local governments before resuming production.
SAWS urged coal mines to maintain a low output during the first few days after production was resumed before gradually returning to full capacity. Excessive production has been blamed as one of the factors behind coal mine accidents in the country.
Twenty-nine miners were working on platform No. 73003 of the Laohutai Mine when it was submerged by a flood at 8:44 p.m. on Saturday.
The ill-fated mine has been closed for a safety overhaul.
Laohutai, which translates into "tiger's platform", is a 100-year-old mine with 160 million tons of remaining coal reserves. It employs 7,200 people and produces 3.35 million tons a year.
It is also rated as one of the country's 45 most dangerous coalmines because of the high risk of flooding, fire and gas leaks.
Coal mine accidents killed 357 people in China in the first two months of this year, according to the SAWS.
It said 4,746 people died in 2,845 coal mine accidents last year.