The owner of a gypsum mine in Shandong province which collapsed on Friday committed suicide earlier this morning as several miners remain trapped underground and one is reported to have died.
According to Xinhua, the accident happened at around 8 a.m. on December 25 in Linyi city, Pingyi county. A total of 29 people were working underground at the time of the collapse. While four managed to escape and a further seven have been rescued, one miner has died and 17 remain trapped underground.
Ma Congbo, chairman of Yurong company that owns the mine, drowned himself by jumping into a mine well while working together with the rescue team in the early hours of the morning. The motive for his suicide has not been made apparent, but Ma was likely fearful of the increasingly strict punishments being doled out by Chinese authorities for industrial accidents in the wake of the explosions which rocked Tianjin in August.
Rescuers have drilled a hole to access some of the trapped workers, and are trying to transfer food and water, officials say. More than 700 emergency officials are involved in rescue efforts, according to Linyi Mayor Zhang Shuping.
Mining accidents caused by a lack of adequate safety standards are not uncommon in China, the world’s largest producer of coal and minerals such as aluminium, iron ore, tin and zinc. Beijing reported 931 colliery fatalities last year, down from the 1,049 death toll recorded in 2013.
The mine collapse is the latest in a series of industrial accidents which have taken place in the latter half of the year, including this month’s landslide in Shenzhen and a chemical blast which took place in Tianjin during August.
– Do not leave the person alone
– Remove any sharp objects, alcohol, drugs or firearms that could be used in a suicide attempt
– Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
– Call the following hotlines for help: Lifeline Shanghai: 021-6279-8990 (English speakers; 10am – 10pm daily); HopeLine: 4001619995 (Chinese speakers; 24/7 toll-free access)