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Death Toll Rises to 60 in Shanxi Mine Blast

Sixty miners had been confirmed dead as of 6:40 PM on Sunday after an explosion at Xishui Colliery in northern Shanxi Province, according to rescue headquarters at the site.


Rescuers told Xinhua they have found the bodies of all 19 miners trapped in Kangjiayao Coal Mine, and 41 others were discovered in Xishui Coal Mine.


Eight rescue teams are searching for nine miners still missing underground in Xishui, according to sources with the rescue headquarters.


The powerful blast ripped through Xishui at noon on Saturday in Shuozhou, a city in a heavily mined area, and caused a wall collapse in neighboring Kangjiayao.


President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have demanded relevant departments try their best to save the remaining trapped men and instructed rescuers to pay attention to their own safety. They also offered their sympathies to victims' families.


Li Yizhong, director of the General Administration of Work Safety (GAWS), and Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety under the GAWS, arrived at Shuozhou on Sunday morning to direct operations.


Built in 1993, Xishui was licensed with an annual output of 150,000 tons of coal. But it was ordered to suspend production after safety problems last November, according to the provincial supervision office of coal mine production.


"In defiance of the order, however, mine owners restarted production this year," said an official from the supervision office.


The other mine, Kangjiayao, was running with governmental approval for production.





(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2005)

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