Sunday, November 28, 2004

The worst job in the world

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Life cheap in China's mines
In May 2002, according to China's official media, 21 miners were trapped by an explosion in a mine in the north-west of the country. But instead of attempting to rescue them, the mine's owner destroyed employee records and whitewashed over scorch marks, leaving them to die.

And in June 2003 in northern China, the bodies of 36 miners who had been killed in a blast in a gold mine were found to have been hidden in an attempt to cover up the accident.

Last year about 20,000 men died in mining accidents in China. That's the population-adjusted equivalent of 5,000 deaths in the US.

We, for now, don't live like that. Five thousand deaths would a Vietnam-level war by our standards. At the beginning of the 20th century, adjusting for population, perhaps life in US mines and major construction sites was comparable.

China is a world in itself -- living partly in the each of the past five centuries of western life.

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