Police in northeast China have arrested the owner of a coal mine who allegedly tried to cover up a fire in which at least six miners were killed.
As Xiang Fangshu, owner of Dongfang No.1 Coal Mine in Dongliang Township of the Mongolian Autonomous County of Fuxin, Liaoning Province, was detained on Wednesday, the investigation into the fire was beginning, according to the local government.
The fire broke out at about 3:40 PM on Sunday when 35 miners were working below ground. Six miners were suffocated by the fumes and 15 were injured.
Only 14 miners managed to escape unhurt from the mine.
The injured miners, mostly suffering from severe burns, are being treated in the local hospital.
Xiang allegedly attempted to handle the accident himself and failed to report it to local work safety authorities, but on Monday afternoon the disaster was reported by someone close to the company.
Xiang allegedly admitted the fire to a team that went to investigate.
The privately-run mine was reportedly preparing to resume production following a suspension for safety reasons when the fire broke out.
All coal mines in the area suspended production on Feb. 10 as required and were not allowed to resume operation if they fail to meet local authorities' safety requirements.
A flooding on March 10 at another coal mine in the province killed 23 workers.
(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2007)