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Death toll rises to 17 in east China subway tunnel collapse
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Rescuers found five more bodies of the construction workers believed missing in the subway tunnel collapse in east China's Zhejiang Province, driving up the death toll to 17, with another four people still missing.

Rescuers found five dead bodies between 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday in the debris near the eastern side of the cave-in in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, said a source with the on-the-scene rescue headquarters.

It started to drizzle from late Saturday to early Sunday, but more than 400 rescuers continued to remove sludge from the hole in search of those missing. Most of the sludge in the hole, estimated to be 10,000 cu m in volume, was cleared as of Sunday.

The tragedy began when a 75-m section of the subway tunnel at the planned Xianghu Station in the suburbs of Hangzhou collapsed in the afternoon of Nov.15

Besides the 21 people who were dead or missing, 24 others were injured in the accident. A total of 11 construction workers are still in hospital.

The State Council Work Safety Committee said in a report issued last Wednesday that inadequate local government surveillance and poor construction safety management were to blame for the accident.

In response the next day, the Zhejiang provincial work safety committee launched a safety examination at major construction projects across the province.

As of Saturday, nearly all Chinese cities where subways are being constructed have launched safety checks.

Zhou Zhiping, company spokesman in charge of the compensation, said families of the dead would be compensated a minimum of 200,000 yuan (about 28,570 U.S. dollars) per person, with an additional 150,000 yuan (21,428 U.S. dollars) per person from the insurance company.

(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2008)

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