Seven mine bosses held responsible for two fatal coal mine gas explosions that killed 249 miners in northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were sentenced to prison on Wednesday.
The court rulings coincided with another a coal mine gas blast in northwest China's Gansu Province, which claimed at least 11 lives.
More than one hundred miners have been killed in accidents in various parts of China during the recent five days, according to reports.
Liu Shuangming, former director of the Chenjiashan Coal Mine in Tongchuan City, Shaanxi, was sentenced to five years and six months and Wang Youjun, former deputy director and chief engineer of the mine, received five years over a gas explosion in 2004 with 166 deaths.
Yaozhou District People's Court of Tongchuan City heard that Liu and Wang had asked the miners to work despite being aware of the risks to their lives.
The tragedy happened on Nov. 28, 2004 at the Chenjiashan Coal Mine in Tongchuan City. A total of 293 miners were working underground when the deadly blast occurred.
Only 127 miners who were working near the entrance were rescued, including 45 who were injured in the blast.
The accident caused a direct economic loss of nearly 42 million yuan (5.2 million U.S. dollars).
Liu and Wang were blamed for the accident and arrested on Dec. 9, 2005 in Tongchuan by the Tongchuan Municipal Public Security Bureau.
The Chenjiashan Coal Mine is a state-owned company with 3,400 employees and a capacity of producing 2.6 million tons of coal a year.
Also on Wednesday, a local court in Xinjiang sentenced Jiang Jinpeng, former board chairman of the Shenlong Coal Mine Limited Company to six years in prison and four others to prison terms ranging from three years to five years.
The five people were found responsible for a fatal gas explosion that occurred on July 11, 2005 in Shenlong Coal Mine of Fukang County, 62 km away from Urumqi, the regional capital, when 87 people were working in the shaft. Only four of them survived.
The blast could have been avoided, provided the mine management had taken effective measures to withdraw miners and cut electricity underground right after detecting the high gas density, according to local officials.
Chinese coal mines suffer frequent explosions, flooding and cave-ins, claiming about 6,000 lives a year.
Unsafe small coal mines account for two-thirds of the total fatalities in mine accidents, government figures show.
The State Administration of Work Safety said earlier China will seal off 2,652 small mines each with an annual output of less than 30,000 tons this year and another 2,209 next year.
Amid efforts to avoid huge fatalities, China will allow no more than 100 miners to work underground per shift in state-owned coal mines, said Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety. He said this is feasible for all 176 mines owned by 13 state-owned enterprises.