3 officials perish in closed mine
Three officials died from inhaling toxic gas in a closed mine in Kaijiang county, Sichuan, on Saturday, the county government said.
The deputy director of the local police bureau and the current and former deputy directors of the local radio and television administration were found dead in the pit, which had been shut down by the government for illegal mining, officials said.
It is believed the gas the three inhaled was carbon monoxide. They were not visiting the mine on official duties, as the government had not scheduled any action at the mine that day.
Witnesses said the policeman had driven the two other men in a police car to the mine, and the three moved the rock that blocked the entrance to the pit and went in.
The witnesses called police hours later, when none of the three had come out.
An employee of the Kaijiang government's publicity department said the result of an investigation by unspecified 'related departments' would be released today.
As workers frequently die in mainland coal mine accidents, the central government ordered in September that mine leaders should lead workers to the pits and ascend with them afterwards.
Villagers near the mine thought the three were there to check on illegal mining, but there was no such indication, the West China City Daily reported.
None of the local government bodies had organised any inspection on Saturday, the report said, citing an official who attended an emergency meeting on Sunday.
The three victims had no apparent relationship with the mine, the source was quoted as saying.