ZHENGZHOU, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The owner of a central China coal mine, where at least 19 miners died in an explosion Wednesday, has turned himself in to the police, rescue headquarters officials said Sunday.
About 90 miners were working underground when a gas explosion occurred at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday in a coal pit privately owned by Guomin Mining Co., Ltd. in Yichuan County, Henan Province.
At least 24 people were believed still trapped underground as of Sunday, said Gao Xiangxing, the headquarters deputy director.
Mine company owner Wang Guozheng disappeared after the blast. Police would give no other details on when or how Wang turned himself in.
Wang was also the head of Baiyao Village where the mine was located.
A deputy manager and four safety inspectors had also disappeared after the accident, making it difficult to identify the exact number of the trapped workers and the location of the blast, said Zhang Zhenqing, director with the county administration of coal industry.
The county work safety authorities ordered the mine to suspend operations after a gas outburst in May last year, and production since then was illegal, Zhang said.
Police said they were still searching for the other five mine officials.
The coal mine was under technological renovation and was designed to have an annual production capacity of 150,000 tonnes.