Thirteen miners remain missing after a coal mine flood last week in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, local authorities said Tuesday.
The flood took place at about 2:00 a.m. on May 30 at the privately run Hengda Coal Mine in Jidong County, Jixi City, and the owner initially said that nobody was trapped, said a spokesman of the Jixi work safety bureau.
Work safety authorities were later tipped off that some miners had been trapped underground, but because the information was delayed, the rescue effort was also delayed until 4:00 p.m. that day, the spokesman said.
Explaining this delay, as well as the late accident report to the State Administration of Work Safety, he said that local authorities needed time to determine the exact number of miners trapped underground.
The mine owner had been detained by police, he said.
Rescuers are speeding up efforts to pump water out of the mine, hoping to find survivors, the spokesman said.
The mine has an annual capacity of 30,000 tons, he said.
He suggested that technical problems had led to the accident, saying that workers had been ordered to dig coal even though a technological improvement plan had not been approved by local work safety authorities.