China chemical spill kills 13
BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Thirteen people have been killed and 11 injured in a chemical spill at a fertilizer factory in eastern China, state media has reported.
The accident occurred early Monday morning when liquid ammonia spilled from a burst pipe killing one worker instantly, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Four others died shortly afterwards, although no details have been given as to the exact cause of death.
Police and firemen were rushed to the scene, Xinhua said, rescuing about 48 workers from the scene.
The accident is the latest in a string of workplace fatalities in China, particularly the country's mines which have been hit by a series of deadly explosions.
The soaring industrial death toll has sparked growing condemnation among officials and the Chinese media with commentators blaming lax safety standards on the rush for profit and widespread local corruption.
Such commentaries were encouraged by Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo who told officials Friday to take a tough line in enforcing proper safety standards in workplaces across China.
Xinhua quoted him as saying the Chinese media had an important role to play in highlighting cases were safety was being compromises by unscrupulous managers and officials.
Last week an editorial in the Beijing Youth Daily attacked what the commentator called an "alliance between capital and power" that was having a deadly impact on Chinese workers.
On Sunday meanwhile a leading government safety official branded as "evil" enterprises which continued to operate unsafe workplaces, particularly mines.
"Enterprises turning a deaf ear to safety regulations and management processes are the main reason for the recent disasters," the state-run China Daily newspaper quoted Zhao Tiechui, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision, as saying.
He added that the "evil supporting organizations" operating unsafe mines should be targeted with the full force of the law.
Zhao's comments came amid reports from across China that at least 50 miners were missing and feared dead in accidents at three separate mines in recent days.
In the northwestern province of Shanxi meanwhile police were continuing to hunt for the owners and managers of a gold mine who went on the run after reportedly trying to cover up an accident in which at least 37 were killed.
According to local officials, the mine's owners hid several corpses in a bid to keep the accident a secret and avoid prosecution.
Last week the government announced it was introducing new tougher laws clearly laying out the responsibilities of owners and managers to ensure the safety of their employees.
Despite such apparently firm action, some commentators have expressed doubts over whether legislation will go far enough.
Some workers' rights groups have also questioned the effectiveness of harsher, saying stiff sentences will only lead to further cover ups as owners seek to avoid punishment.
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