Death toll this year is over 109,000, but mine fatalities fall 20pc Some 300 people died in traffic- and work-related accidents every day on the mainland despite a 10 per cent drop in the death toll over the past year, officials said yesterday. Minister of State Administration of Work Safety, Li Yizhong, said that 109,143 people had died so far this year in traffic- and work-related accidents, a 10.3 per cent fall from the same period last year. There have been 618,632 accidents this year, representing a 9.9 per cent drop over the same period. 'Last year 127,000 people died in [traffic- and] work-related accidents; the figure will be substantially lower this year,' Mr Li said. But Mr Li warned that there was no room for complacency, as it would take more than a decade for China to come out of the shadow of high workplace fatalities during its rapid industrialisation. The death toll in coal mine accidents dropped by 21 per cent in the first 10 months this year, but Mr Li warned of rampant corruption which was hampering efforts to improve the industry's notorious safety standards. According to a report by the administration and the Ministry of Supervision on 11 major accidents in recent years, four involved illegal production. Mr Li said investigators found that many were caused by officials' negligence in enforcing safety standards, but that corruption also played an important role as officials had invested in these coal mines or protected illegal or substandard coal mines in exchange for bribes. 'In some accidents, corruption such as dereliction of duty, exchanging favours for money and collusion between officials and businessmen is relatively serious,' Mr Li said. He cited as an example an accident at a coal mine in Xinan county, in Henan province , where local officials colluded with the mine operators and absconded with the mine's revenue after the accident occurred. He said the government had handed over 117 officials and operators responsible for these 11 accidents to the judiciary for criminal charges, while another 166 had been disciplined by the Communist Party. Among them 45 were fired, and two provincial leaders received administrative warnings. Mr Li said the government was committed to dealing with the causes of these accidents, including the collusion between officials and businessmen. He failed to provide concrete measures for achieving this, apart from improving communication with local cadres. 'Grass-roots officials have a lot of problems,' he said. 'They have told me many of them, 'What will we do if supplies get tight after small mines are closed? Will GDP fall? What about jobs for people? How will people eat?' 'You have to help them resolve these problems, and tell them how other places have coped. Most local officials are well-intentioned, and will increasingly follow the central government's direction.' He said the government should use work safety as a criteria for assessing the political credit of local officials. Mr Li also denied that a government campaign to shut down small coal mines had been ineffective. Instead, the closure of small mines, which he described as 'death traps', was a major reason for the reduction in the number of deaths at coal mines, he said. 'China shut down 5,931 small coal mines last year, taking up a quarter of the small coal mines in the country,' he said. He said the government was planning to raise the number of closures to 11,000 over the next two years, allowing only 10,000 small coals mines to operate. But Mr Li warned that the government should be careful to prevent the small mines from reopening. He also denied the closure of these small mines would affect coal production, saying the country's coal output had increased by 8.1 per cent so far this year.