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Colliery Blast Kills 23 in N. China
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Twenty-three miners were confirmed dead and 53 others injured in a colliery gas blast Wednesday in north China's Shanxi Province, the local mine safety authorities said today.


Altogether 697 miners were working down the pit when the blast went off at around 7:00 PM at Sihe Coal Mine under the state-owned Jincheng Mining Group, an official with the provincial coal mine safety supervision bureau said on condition of anonymity.


The official said search and rescue work had ended at the site by 7:00 AM today and the injured miners had been hospitalized. Most of them suffered no fatal injury except for one miner who was seriously poisoned by carbon monoxide, he said quoting hospital sources.


The bureau plans to set up an investigation team today to see into the accident, he said.


A preliminary investigation shows the explosion occurred at an airtight area in the pit.


Sihe Coal Mine, one of the largest collieries in the coal-rich Shanxi, currently produces 10.8 million tons a year.


(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2006)

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