GUIYANG - Eight officials were penalized Thursday, a day after a coal mine flood killed 12 people in Puding county of Southwest China's Guizhou province, municipal authorities said.
Wu Guohong, deputy head of Puding county, was removed from his post. County head Pang Kun and deputy county head Liu Hebang were given administrative penalties for having "leadership responsibilities", according to a statement from the work safety authorities of Anshun city, which administers Puding.
Five officials with Machang township, where the mine is located, were also removed from posts or given administrative penalties, it added.
The accident occurred at 7:40 am Wednesday when 50 miners were working in a shaft of the mine, which has an annual capacity of 90,000 tons.
Thirty-eight of the miners managed to escape, and one of them was injured.
Sun Guoqiang, vice governor of Guizhou, said negligence of law and responsibilities was a main cause of the accident.
"This is a typical accident caused by breaches of production regulations and coal mine safety procedures," Sun said.
The flooded Dapo Mine was operating illegally when the accident occurred. It had been ordered to suspend its operations on Aug 20, according to a statement from the rescue headquarters.
In addition, one person was electrocuted to death in the mine on Sept 2, about a month after the suspension order, according to the statement.
Owners of the mine did not immediately report the flooding as required. Instead, they tried to conceal the accident. The police learned about the accident only after receiving reports from mine workers Wednesday afternoon, it said.
The mine managers, who had been on the run after the accident, were apprehended Thursday morning, police said.
The direct cause of the flooding is under investigation.
It was the second serious fatal mine accident in Puding this year. A gas explosion in Maodong township of Puding left 21 people dead and five injured on May 13.