A mainland Chinese court has handed down one death sentence and three lengthy prison terms to officials for trying to cover up a mine accident in which 81 workers died, state media said Wednesday.
The sentences are the first to result from investigations into the flooding of a tin mine in Nandan county in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang region on July 17 last year.
Wan Ruizhong, former communist party chief in Nandan county, received the death sentence at a Guangxi intermediate court for his key role in the tragedy and subsequent cover-up, Xinhua news agency said.
“In collusion with others, Wan violated rules on the reporting of major accidents, and instead tried to cover it up,” Xinhua said.
“He also did not organize rescue work or launch investigations in a timely manner,” it said.
Tang Yusheng, the former head of Nandan county, was sentenced to 20 years in jail for assisting Wan in the cover-up following the tragedy, the report said.
Both Wan and Tang were also convicted for having taken massive bribes in the years prior to the flooding, according to Xinhua.
Previous reports said the disaster happened when explosions destroyed underground terrain separating the tin mine from a body of subterranean water, causing extensive flooding.
The incident was later blamed on mismanagement, illegal mining and poorly conducted explosions.