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17 dead, 11 missing in deserted mine in Shanxi
Updated: 2004-02-07 10:26

Seventeen villagers died and 11 are missing after they entered a deserted shaft in north China's Shanxi Province on Wednesday, according to information released by local rescue headquarters on Friday.

As of 9:00 pm Thursday, the mine rescue team of Jingzhong City, in the central part of the province, had retrieved 17 bodies.

Officials at the rescue headquarters said that 28 people from Huizu Village near Jingzhong City, led by village head Zhen Yuexiu, entered an abandoned shaft Wednesday evening after a villager claimed that it linked up with another coal mine in a neighboring village.

The government of Lingshi County organized rescue work right after hearing about the missing people at 1:30 pm Thursday. At 5:30 pm, the rescue team went underground, and had found the bodies by 9:00 pm.

An official with the rescue team said that his team had difficulty going further in the tunnel due to hot air and carbon monoxide.

So far, no one knows why the villagers entered the shaft, or how they died.

The rescue headquarters is investigating.

Acting Governor Zhang Baoshun and Deputy Governor Liang Bin have arrived at the spot to supervise the rescue work.

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