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18 killed in Philippines' mining blast
Updated: 2005-10-28 09:12

An explosion in a gold mine in the southern Philippines killed 18 miners and left dozens of others missing and feared dead, officials said Thursday.

At least 10 miners have been rescued following the blast late Wednesday inside a mine operated by JB Management and Mining Corp. in the mountain village of Mount Diwata in Compostela Valley province, the Office of Civil Defense said.

Village chief Franco Tito said one survivor told him that a cache of dynamite ignited inside the tunnel, but the regional Civil Defense office dismissed that account and said a compressor supplying air to the mine had apparently exploded.

Tito said 18 bodies were removed from the compound.

He held out little hope of finding more survivors among about 50 people believed to have been inside the tunnel "because this is an explosion, not a tunnel collapse."

"This is going to be a retrieval, no longer a rescue operation," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Nestor Quinsay said he could only confirm five fatalities and two injured Thursday but said he had reports of people still trapped inside.

Police and soldiers, who were initially prevented from entering the compound, were later allowed inside to help the rescue effort, which was hampered by heavy rain and thick smoke, he said.

Accidents are common in the mining areas on Mount Diwalwal, which is believed to sit atop a rich gold deposit, about 580 miles southeast of Manila.

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