Security guards fail to end confrontation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am

Dozens of armed security guards blocked entry to the Huayuan coal mine yesterday but did nothing to reduce confrontation between relatives of trapped workers and mine officials.

Qiang Jianguo has visited the south gate, the site of conflict on Monday, every day since his brother Qiang Weiguo was trapped underground on Friday. He did not speak publicly for fear of 'consequences', but he still wanted to be there to hear about developments.

He said the government had sent his brother's family fruit and other food, and some money, but they really wanted information on the rescue or their missing relative's condition.

After hearing rumours yesterday of a body floating in the water the day before, Mr Qiang rushed out to ask if anyone knew what the person looked like. 'We never think about compensation when there is a hope for him to come back alive, but we have prepared for the worst,' Mr Qiang said.

He said his brother's 11-year-old daughter had been told her father was in hospital, but she knew what was going on and cried all the time.

Li Mingzhen , the sister-in-law of a trapped miner, confirmed her family received a newsletter update on the rescue developments but said it answered few questions. 'I did not read it because it was made for the media and government, not for us, the ones suffering,' Ms Li said.

She said she still believed the miners were sent to work underground on Friday even though the levee had broken earlier that morning.

'They killed those miners. There is no doubt about it. We will pursue justice to root out those bad officials.'

Taxi driver Wang Xihua said his brother, Wang Xiqiang, was among the last to escape the mine.

'He does not want to be underground any more. He does not even want to stay in this town. I will help him find a way to move to another country to make some easy money,' Mr Wang said.