The mainland's top safety watchdog has accused corrupt and unco-operative local officials of derailing a central government campaign to control deadly mine disasters, which showed little sign of abating last year. Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, said local authorities, who often invested in disaster-prone mines, had acted as protective umbrellas for mine owners in defiance of Beijing's orders. 'It will never be possible to prevent fatal accidents until the umbrellas protecting illegal and unsafe mines are removed,' he told a safety forum in Beijing. Mr Huang said a lack of support and co-ordination among other government departments and local authorities was hampering the safety watchdog's efforts to curb mining disasters. 'Production safety concerns various departments and the safety administration is far from powerful enough to address the problems,' he said. An effective co-ordination mechanism had not been set up due to different opinions among local governments and State Council ministries. Fatal mine disasters have increased, despite an overall decline in the past two years in the number of safety accidents and the number of deaths involved. Mr Huang noted poor working conditions had claimed many victims, with 560,000 people suffering from serious lung diseases. He agreed the increasing number of migrant miners, who lacked basic safety training, was another reason for the death toll. 'It is true the quality of miners has declined in recent years due to a large number of rural migrants joining the mining industry,' he said. 'But these miners should not be blamed.'