China is suspending production at 7,000 coal mines or about one-third of the nationwide total in a safety crackdown on the accident-plagued industry, a government newspaper reported Wednesday.
The mines, most of them small and poorly equipped, will be required to improve safety measures and won't be allowed to reopen if they fail to meet national standards, the China Daily said.
The announcement came two days after 123 miners missing in a flooded coal mine in southern China were declared dead in a highly publicized disaster. Eleven mine officials blamed for the accident have been detained and two local mayors dismissed, the AP reports.
So far, 1,324 mines have closed, and the rest must suspend production by the end of the year, the China Daily said. It said China's energy supplies shouldn't be affected, because the mines account for only a small fraction of coal output.
The newspaper said it wasn't clear how many miners might lose their jobs.
China has about 24,000 coal mines, according to the government.
Fires, floods and other accidents killed more than 5,000 Chinese coal miners last year. Many are blamed on lack of fire-control and ventilation equipment or failure to enforce safety rules.