A key suspect responsible for the mine flooding that trapped 57 miners underground in Zuoyun County, north China's Shanxi Province was nabbed by police on Friday, local police source said.
The suspect, Zhang Shengsheng, was an executive in charge of mining and work safety. He fled soon after the accident happened on May 18.
He was nabbed in Ejin Horo Banner, Ordos of North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 3:40 AM Friday, together with his mistress, the source said.
Police are still hunting down Wang Laowu, a labor contractor of the mine and the last suspect who is still hiding.
Nine management staff, including the owner of the miner Li Fuyuan, had been detained before Zhang Shengsheng's capture by the police, said Bai Yulong, spokesman of the rescue headquarters.
Three officials of Zhangjiachang Town, where the mine is located, including Party secretary Chang Rui and township head LiuYongxin, have been suspended from their posts.
Local authorities in charge of work safety had tried to cover up the accident by reporting that only five miners were trapped.
The management of the Xinjing Coal Mine rented taxis to transfer family members of the trapped miners to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi's close neighbor, to prevent them from speaking to the press.
Zhang Shengsheng and Wang Laowu went into hiding after their attempt to cover up failed.
The coal mine accident could have been avoided, according to the miners who managed to escape.
Miners told Xinhua that the mine showed signs of flooding six days before the fatal accident. However, the management ordered them to keep on mining.
"On May 18, a team leader had an argument with the management as he insisted mining should stop because it was too dangerous. He was slapped in the face by a manager," said a miner surnamed Yang.
The angry team leader did not go to work underground and escaped from the accident, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency May 26, 2006)