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18 killed, 15 still missing in coal mine blast
Updated: 2004-05-19 17:30

Death toll of the coal mine gas explosion occurred Tuesday in north China's Shanxi province rises to 18, with 15 others remaining strained.

Rescuers are prepared to entre the coal mine hit by gas blast in north China's Shanxi Province, late Tuesday night, May 18, 2004. [Xinhua]

The local colliery at Jiaokou county of Luliang city in western Shanxi province was hit by a gas blast at around 6:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Gong Anku, director of the provincial work safety administration, said the rescue operation was performed in a tense manner, during which one miner was rescued and the bodies of another three had been retrieved by Wednesday morning.

However, the dense carbon monoxide filled underneath apart from to the tiny, narrow mouth and laneway of the mine slows down the rescue operation, according to the official.

More than 70 rescuers, divided into seven squads, went down to the shaft on rotation in search of the miners.

Li Qi, a member of the rescue team, said they would exert their utmost to fulfill the mission.

A working group headed by Shang Dengying, an official of the State Administration of Work Safety, arrived at the accident site in Jiaokou at noon Wednesday to direct the rescue operation and probe into the cause of the tragedy.

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