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Death Toll Rises to 86 in Henan Coal Mine Blast

Four bodies of a deadly coal mine blast were recovered at the Daping Coal Mine in central China's Henan Province, bringing the death toll of the disaster to 86, rescue headquarters confirmed on Monday morning.

Rescuers were still searching for other 62 missing miners.

A fatal gas explosion occurred at the coal mine of Zhengzhou Coal Industry Group, or Zhengmei, at 10:10 PM Wednesday when 446miners were working underground, and only 298 managed to escape.

The blast ravaged three mining areas. The ensuing collapse has blocked the tunnels and damaged electric cables and transport equipment. Furthermore, both the temperature and the density of the harmful gas remain high, making it difficult for rescue work to continue, according to Liu Xinshu, head of the Zhengmei rescue brigade.

Rescuers have restored 12 underground ventilation stations and cleared debris at 11 collapsed tunnel sections.

Underground water, about 60 Celsius degrees high, could reach rescuers' waists and the air was permeated with poisoning gas, according to rescuers who reached No. 13121 accident site.

Rescuers were still trying to discharge the deadly high-concentration gas in the laneways.

Zhengmei is a listed state-owned company based near Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The accident was the most serious coal accident this year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2004)

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