HONG KONG—An unemployed miner in China’s southern province of Guangdong blew himself up at a local police station after pleading with officers to help him obtain unpaid wages, witnesses said.
Police have identified the miner as Liu Yingqiu, a native of central Hunan province, they told RFA’s Cantonese service.
He appears to have triggered an explosion around 3 p.m. July 13 at the busy Shaoguan police station, they said.
I heard a loud ‘boom’ and a lot of black smoke came out from the police station. The police kept people away and a crowd formed,
Liu had been working for an illegal mine earlier in the year in Wenguan city, also in Guangdong province, sources said.
But local officials closed the mine and the owner fled, without paying his workers.
“It was about 3 p.m.—I heard a loud ‘boom’ and a lot of black smoke came out from the police station. The police kept people away and a crowd formed,” said a female student who lives opposite the police station and identified herself by her surname, Cheung.
“Even the security office of the police station was destroyed. I looked inside and it was all in a mess. The walls and windows were shattered into pieces. All the police had to be evacuated to the street. I saw a body whose head was totally smashed,” she said.
Officials removed the body and worked overnight to clean and repair the area, witnesses said. An adjacent street reopened the following morning.
China's coal-mining industry is struggling to meet booming demand for coal, which provides about 70 percent of the nation's energy.
Last year nearly 6,000 miners died in 3,300 blasts, floods and other accidents, according to official figures.
A police officer who worked on the third floor of the building said he had overheard someone begging loudly for help in obtaining back pay before the blast.
“It’s lucky no one else was injured,” he said.
Shaoguan is a prefecture-level city in northern Guangdong province, with a population of more than 3 million.