Police in north China's Hebei Province are hunting for five people allegedly responsible for Sunday's illegal iron mine explosion that killed 24.
The suspects, including the owner of the mine hidden inside a wild boar farm in Wu'an City, the farm owner and the mine managers, fled the scene after the explosion, according to the city's public security bureau. The management of the iron mine had been purchasing, storing and using explosives illegally. They were stealing state-owned mineral resources, the bureau said.
Rescuers recovered the remaining nine bodies from a tunnel about 240 meters underground on Wednesday and all were identified. The dead included 11 from Wu'an, one from the neighboring city of Shahe, and another 12 migrant workers from places outside of Hebei, said Wang Haibo, an official with the city's government information office.
The explosion happened at midday on Sunday and trapped 55 people. Thirty one survived with five slightly injured.
Set up in 2000, the wild boar farm, covering more than five hectares in the suburb of Wu'an, belongs to the Hebei Huangshanzhen Husbandry Co. Ltd.
The mine owner built three walls to block the view of the farm from the outside, camouflaging the illegal mining operation.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2008)