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N. China Colliery Blast: 51 Dead, 4 Missing
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Rescuers said Tuesday they had found the bodies of 51 miners and errors had been made with the initial headcount of casualties following last Saturday's colliery blast in north China's Shanxi Province.


At 9:00 AM Tuesday four miners were still missing in the coal pit of Linjiazhuang Colliery of Lingshi County, Jinzhong City, emergency rescue headquarters confirmed.


The rescue headquarters said 55 miners, instead of 57 as was previously reported, had been trapped when the coal dust explosion occurred at 4:40 PM last Saturday.


By Tuesday morning rescuers were able to give good news on miners Qi Baoyin and Li Xinling who were thought to be among the casualties.


Qi had left the coal pit to make a phone call shortly before the accident occurred, rescuers said. "When I hung up and reentered the pit I saw dense smoke and sensed trouble. So I ran away as fast as I could," he said. He was not immediately seen in the chaos following the tragedy.


The other miner Li had been hospitalized in the neighboring city of Jiexiu due to an industrial injury since July 7, rescuers confirmed.


The rescue operation is still ongoing but a high density of carbonic oxide has made it difficult, said Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, who is overseeing the rescue work.


Sixty-two miners were working in the pit when the blast went off. Six managed to escape and another, suffering from carbon-monoxide poisoning, was rescued, said local official An Zhenlu.


A preliminary investigation shows the incident was triggered by an unauthorized explosion in an adjacent mine. The city government of Jinzhong has launched a crackdown on all illegal mines, urging all such activities to be performed in line with strict safety rules.


(Xinhua News Agency July 18, 2006)

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