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Eleven missing miners unlikely to survive
( 2003-11-14 21:53) (Xinhua)

Coal mine experts on Friday said 11 miners missing in a gas explosion in a northeast China coal mine had little hope of survival.

The blast occurred at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Wangou Coal Mine in Tonghua City of Jilin Province while 24 miners were working in the No. 2 shaft.

So far, four miners have been confirmed dead, while nine miners escaped.

According to Li Chengmin, deputy chief engineer of the Tonghua Coal Mine Bureau, the remaining 11 miners were unlikely to survive. He said the explosion caused many cave-ins in the shaft which posed great difficulties to rescue work.

The explosion depleted oxygen and produced a poisonous gas like carbon monoxide, Li said, so the 11 miners might have already died of suffocation or poisoning.

According to the rescue operation command, it has called in more than 10 skilled technicians from nearby coal mines to speed up the rescue work.

The mine, which had gone bankrupt, was ordered to stop production on June 4, but Liang Min and Zhang Dewu, the mine owners, were "driven by greed" and resumed production secretly, said Jiao Zhengzhong, vice-governor of the province.

All small coal mines in Jilin have been ordered to stop production until safety inspections have been carried out.

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