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4 dead, 8 missing in Xinjiang avalanche
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Rescuers have recovered the bodies of four workers buried in an avalanche on Thursday morning in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the local government said.

Altogether 12 workers were buried by snow at a mountainous tunnel construction site in the Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili in the region's northern area, said Zhang Yun, the prefecture's deputy Party chief, who was on his way to the site.

The tunnel is at a remote area known as "Guozigou" by local people. It is about 500 kilometers from Urumqi, the regional capital.

About 70 workers were at the site when the accident happened at around 10 a.m. on Thursday. More than 200 rescuers were searching for the missing, Zhang said.

"The rescue operation is slow as the temperature there is only around minus 5 degrees Celsius. Machines, like bulldozers, can hardly get in as the road linking the construction site and the outside was covered by about one meter of snow."

The workers were from the Xinjiang Zhanyou Tianyuan Machinery and Engineering Company. The firm is building a 3.8-kilometer-long tunnel, part of a cross-border pipeline project to send gas from Turkmenistan to Shanghai.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2008)

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