by Edward Wong
Ten journalists and 48 officials have been charged with taking bribes to cover up a mining disaster last year, according to a report published on Monday in China Daily, an official English-language newspaper.
Mine bosses relocated bodies, destroyed evidence and paid the journalists the equivalent of $381,000 to cover up the explosion, in which 34 miners and a rescue worker were killed, China Daily reported. Earlier reports by other news organizations indicated that the bosses also cremated miners¡¯ bodies against the wishes of family members, paid grieving relatives to silence them and sealed the mine shaft with truckloads of dirt.
The disaster took place on July 14, 2008, almost a month before the Beijing Olympics, at the Lijiawa mine in Hebei Province, about 100 miles west of Beijing. The cover-up kept the disaster out of the public eye for 85 days.
In September 2008, someone reported the cover-up on an Internet chat site, and the ensuing clamor forced the central government in Beijing to step in, firing 25 local officials and putting 22 of them under criminal investigation. The charges reported by China Daily on Monday were the result of an investigation by the State Council, China¡¯s cabinet.
The report said that 48 officials were being charged, including the mine owners, the county chief, work safety officials and police officers. The China Daily said none of the 10 journalists charged in the case had been identified.
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