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Death Toll Rises to 19 in N. China Colliery Gas Blast
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19 miners have been confirmed dead and two others are missing after Monday morning's colliery gas blast in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

As of Tuesday night, rescuers had recovered the bodies of 19 victims. They are still searching for the two miners who remain trapped in the collapsed shafts of Rongsheng Colliery in Jiudonggou Village of Otog Banner in the southwest.

Rescuers said that the blast caused a cave-in that has reportedly blocked all exits and weakened the shaft structure. 

One miner was rescued on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of survivors to 13. 34 miners were working underground at the time of the blast.

Rongsheng Colliery, located in resource-rich Wuhai City, is a privately owned mine with an annual production capacity of 900,000 tons. Investigators have found that it was operating without a safety production license.

(Xinhua News Agency March 15, 2006)

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