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Toll climbs to 65 in Shanxi mine blast
Updated: 2005-03-22 09:15

The death toll from a north China coal mine gas explosion rose to 65 after two more bodies were found and four miners remain missing, state media said.

The explosion Saturday ripped through the Xishui colliery at Shuozhou city in Shanxi province, killing 46 there so far, the Xinhua news agency said.

The blast was so powerful that it caused a wall to collapse in the neighboring Kangjiayao coal mine, killing another 19 miners there.

A total of 69 coal miners were trapped in the two shafts after the accident. The four missing miners are from the Xishui mine.

Four owners of the Xishui mine have been detained on suspicion of defying an order last November to cease operations over safety problems.

The other coal mine, Kangjiayao, had governmental approval to operate.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered local authorities to do their utmost to save those still trapped.

The country's economic boom has fueled a heavy demand for energy, causing coal prices to skyrocket and leading some bosses to disregard dangerous gas levels.

In the worst mining accident in China's recent history, 214 miners were killed after a gas blast on February 14 at the Sunjiawan pit in Fuxin city in northeastern Liaoning province.

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