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53 Confirmed Dead in N. China Colliery Blast
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At the end of rescue operations yesterday, 53 miners were confirmed dead as a result of a colliery explosion in north China's Shanxi Province.


The rescue headquarters said 53 bodies had been retrieved. Initially it was reported that 64 were working underground when the blast occurred at the Linjiazhuang Coal Mine of Lingshi County, Jinzhong City, at approximately 4:40 PM Saturday. However, rescuers revised this figure to 59.  


Six miners managed to escape and another was rescued, the headquarters said. Another miner died from carbon monoxide poisoning while helping with the rescue operations.


Families of the victims are expected to receive 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) in compensation from the government, the local authorities said.


Initial investigations show the coal dust explosion in the illegal Linjiazhuang colliery was triggered by an unauthorized explosion in the adjacent Xiamen mine.  


The owner of Linjiazhuang Coal Mine and a deputy manager of Xiamen Coal Mine, who was responsible for the unauthorized explosion, have been questioned by local police. Local police have frozen the bank accounts of the two mines.


Linjiazhuang Coal Mine was a village-run colliery before it became a private operation while Xiamen is a state-owned coal producer with an annual production capacity of 450,000 tons.


The city government of Jinzhong has launched a crackdown on all illegal mines, urging that all mining activities be performed in line with the safety regulations.  


(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2006)

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