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Death Toll Rises to 49 in Shanxi Explosion
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Another two bodies have been pulled from the rubble left by Friday's powerful blast caused by explosives stored in a private house in north China's Shanxi Province, bringing the death toll to 49, rescuers said.


The number of the injured was also revised to 30, according to the rescuers.


Liu Jinguo, deputy minister of Public Security, was at the scene of the explosion leading rescuers to comb the debris in the search for survivors or bodies.


The explosion took place around 6:30 AM Friday at a rural house in Dongzhai Village, Ningwu County, local police sources confirmed.


It's believed the explosion was triggered by a fire in the house.


Witnesses said that early on Friday morning, the house, owned by a villager known as Sun Linfeng, caught fire and many fellow villagers then rushed to help extinguish the fire, while others watched the house burning.


Both helpers and onlookers were killed when the bungalow exploded which also damaged buildings next door.


The explosives were hidden in one room of the house and other rooms were occupied by renters. There is evidence that massive quantities of detonators and fuses used to ignite dynamite were in the building.


A rescue headquarters, headed by the Ningwu County Government, has been formed to carry out the rescue operation, which is ongoing.


More than 200 fire fighters, armed police and public security police have been busy clearing the debris.


Specialists from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration of Work Safety are investigating the explosion.


With vast coal reserves, Shanxi Province is the biggest coal producer in China. Explosives are in widespread use in the area's coal mines.


(Xinhua News Agency July 9, 2006)



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