A trapped miner is rescued from a collapsed gypsum mine in Pingyi County, in east China's Shandong Province, on Friday, December 25.

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Boss of mine kills himself by jumping into mine well

17 people are still trapped inside collapsed mine

Beijing CNN  — 

A Chinese executive has committed suicide two days after a gypsum mine collapsed trapping 17 people, state media reported.

Ma Congbo, chief executive of Yurong Trade Company that owns the mine in Shandong province, eastern China killed himself by jumping into a mine well during the rescue operation in the early hours of Sunday, according to the provincial government, cited by state news agency Xinhua.

The mine in Pingyi county collapsed Friday while 29 people were working inside. One miner has been confirmed dead. Seventeen are still missing while the rest of the miners were rescued.

The Beijing Youth Daily reported that the collapse of the mine owned by Ma’s company was caused by abandoned gypsum mines nearby. Gypsum is a mineral used to make fertilizer, chalk and other materials.

Watch list

The company has been on the local work safety administration’s watch list multiple times, the newspaper reported. Last October, the local government compelled the company to suspend operations due to safety issues, it added.

An official with the local safety work administration told Beijing Youth Daily that Ma’s mine was suspended during a safety inspection in November. The official believed the mine kept operating secretly while on suspension.

When the mine collapsed Friday morning, China Earthquake Networks Center initially reported that a magnitude-4.0 earthquake had hit Pingyi county. The center soon corrected that the quake was actually caused by the mine collapse.

Cracked walls and pavements are seen in pictures on social media and state media.

The mine collapse occurred the same week as a massive pile of construction waste collapsed and buried buildings and homes in Shenzhen. More than 70 people are still missing a week after the landslide.