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Search Abandoned 12 Days After Hunan Gas Blast
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Rescuers on Monday abandoned their search for four missing miners 12 days after a gas explosion that killed nine other workers at a colliery in central China's Hunan Province.

The missing miners were unlikely to have survived due to the high intensity of the toxic gas and the serious cave-in in the mine shaft, said Li Ming, vice mayor of Leiyang City, where the mine is located.

Twelve days without water and food had lessened their chances of survival, added Li.

Twenty-three miners were working underground when the explosion took place at around 9:00 AM on Nov. 8 in the Xinpo Coal Mine. Ten were rescued, including five injured.

Most of the victims were villagers from the township of Simenzhou, where the mine is situated, and families of the dead have each received 220,000 yuan (US$ 25,425) in compensation. Officials have yet to announce any compensation for the families of the missing miners.

An investigation into the cause of the explosion is underway and experts suspected sparks caused by electric drills might have caused the blast.

The privately-owned mine went into operation in 1997, producing 30,000 tons of coal annually.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2006)

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