Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Senior Chinese officials are being held responsible for an accident at a mine in January that led to the death of at least 10 miners.
Authorities in China's Shandong Province said Wednesday they have charged 45 people with neglect, including a city mayor and a municipal party secretary, that led to the gold mine accident that trapped 22 miners underground for two weeks, Xinhua news agency reported.
Yao Xiuxia, the municipal party secretary of the city of Qixia, and Zhu Tao, Qixia's mayor, have been fired and are under probe for delays in reporting the accident, according to Sixth Tone. An official report said Yao believed the "trapped people would likely be rescued."
On Jan. 10, an explosion at a gold mine in Qixia trapped 22 miners. Two weeks after the incident, 11 workers were rescued, 10 people were found dead and one miner remains missing.
According to the official investigation, detonators, cords and explosives that were bunched together in an underground storage facility set off the explosion, which occurred after an accidental fire in the area.
Total damages are estimated to be about 68.47 million yuan, or about $10.6 million, authorities said.
Authorities said the mining company, Shandong Wucailong Investment Co. Ltd., stored explosives in a manner that violated local laws.
During mining operations, the company also allowed the use of blowtorches and firearms in hazardous mining zones, authorities said, according to Xinhua. Fifteen 15 mining executives also are being charged with neglect and concealing the accident for 30 hours.
The rescue operation began after a crew noticed a pull on a rope Jan. 17. Survivors trapped underground also sent a note to the rescue team by rope. On Jan. 24, 10 miners from a group of 11 were rescued, and on Jan. 25, rescuers recovered nine bodies.