The owner of a gypsum mine in China on Sunday committed suicide by jumping into a well during rescue operations for 17 workers still trapped in mine after it caved-in two days ago, killing one person.
Ma Congbo, chairman of Yurong company that owns the mine, drowned himself by jumping into the water when working together with the rescue team in the early hours of Sunday morning, fearing reprisals as the government ordered suspension of the mine’s operations.
The mine in Pingyi County in Linyi city of Shandong Province collapsed yesterday when a total of 29 people were working underground.
Zhang Shuping, mayor of Linyi city, said more than 700 rescuers are trying to rescue 17 workers who are still trapped underground.
Rescuers have drilled a hole to get to one of the locations where the workers are trapped, and are trying to transfer goods and contact the workers, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
According to China Earthquake Networks Centre, the collapse was caused by an earthquake measuring 4 on the Richter scale in Pingyi County.
Gypsum is a soft sulphate mineral that is widely used in construction.
Meanwhile, the local government has ordered gypsum mines to suspend operations for safety checks after Ma’s death.
The cause of the gypsum mine collapse is under investigation.
China has a poor record in terms of the number of deaths caused by lack of industrial safety standards.
China says the number of fatalities is declining, but some rights groups argue that the actual figures are higher than what the official data claims.
Anger about industrial safety standards is growing after scores of deaths this year, including this month’s landslide in the commercial hub of Shenzhen and a chemical blast in the industrial city of Tianjin in August.