Media coverage of the Guangxi tin mine disaster underlines both the courage of some sectors of the mainland press and the difficulties journalists face in pursuing stories involving government officials. The fact that there has been official confirmation of the July 17 tin mine accident, in which at least 81 people were killed, is a victory for mainland reporters, who were followed and threatened by local gangsters and stripped of their films when taking pictures. It is rare on the mainland for such articles to be published, defying pressure and threats from local officials. Readers were kept informed of the latest developments as the disaster unfolded with 24-hour a day updates on the Internet, which undermined attempts by local officials to control a news blackout on the accident. Xinhua also remained silent for the first 10 days. Although operators of the Nandan county tin mine managed to cover up the accident initially, several mainland media organisations sent reporters in to find out the truth. Nandan officials at first denied the incident, but the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News, the China Daily and the official Web site of the People's Daily were able to find evidence confirming it. The central leadership finally sent a high-powered delegation led by Li Rongrong, Minister of State Economic and Trade Commission, to Guangxi on Saturday to investigate the matter. Guangxi Communist Party secretary Cao Bochun confirmed that the accident had happened and also ordered an investigation to find out who was responsible for covering it up. 'We got the news from the other media but we have confirmed that this is the truth,' said Lu Ximing, an editor with the Shanghai Youth Daily, which was among the first newspapers to break the story on July 30. 'After the publication of the news, we were neither criticised nor praised.' The Shanghai Youth Daily is backed by the Chinese Communist Youth League, a stronghold of Vice-President Hu Jintao. An editor of the People's Daily Web site also said that its report of the mine accident was endorsed by the leadership. Despite coverage of the accident, which marked a victory for mainland media and showed it was possible to report the truth of what happened, this does not necessarily mean that the media will now be treading a path towards a Western-style free and open press. The mainland media's brave pursuit of the truth behind the tin mine scandal was tacitly encouraged by the central Government, according to analysts. But mainland journalists still face a number of reporting restrictions and many resort to using their skills to write advertising features to make money. Some mainland journalists still serve as a go-between for advertisers and their news organisation because they are paid hefty commissions. Others charge fees for stories. Despite the problems inherent in reporting on the mainland, Premier Zhu Rongji has said the media provides forceful supervision of society.