Mine owner detained following deadly Chinese coal mine disaster

A deadly mining disaster in China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang was caused by illegal operation and exacerbated by deceptive practices on the part of the mine's owner according to reports by local authorities.

The China Daily reports that the flood in the Furuixiang coal mine in China's Heilongjiang province occurred at around 11:40 pm on Saturday evening and has left 14 miners still trapped within an inundated pit.

Rescuers are still frantically attempting to remove water from the mine using five pumps capable of draining 455 metric tonnes of water per hour.

The rescue headquarters are still unable to ascertain the location of the trapped miners, however, with Li Shuguang, an officer in charge of the operation, referring to the rescue attempt as a "race against time."

Adverse weather conditions have also severely hampered the rescue efforts. Heavy snow began falling at 4pm on Monday and temperatures fell as low as minus eleven degrees celcius the following morning. Weather forecasts expect heavy snowfall until Wednesday.

Local authorities have blamed the accident on illegal operation by the mine owner, Xiao Lidong, who according to Li "deliberately hid the real conditions in the pit and provided us with a false map" which led to a miscalculation of the amount of floodwater which entered the pit.

Preliminary investigation has discovered that the mine overstepped its licensed boundaries, which led to flooding when miners drilled into an adjacent pit that had been closed and filled with water.

Police have detained Xiao Lidong and frozen the mine's assets.