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Over 80 killed in Chinese mine explosion

The death toll from China’s latest coal mine disaster reached 87 as hopes dimmed on Sunday that more survivors would be found a day after a gas blast at a colliery in the country’s far north-east.

Xinhua news agency reported 528 workers were in the mine, at Hegang in Heilongjiang province, at the time of the blast, and 420 had been rescued by Sunday. About 21 miners remained trapped or unaccounted for.

Zhang Fucheng, an official in charge of rescue efforts, told Chinese television that efforts were being impeded by dense gas and collapsed tunnels.

This was the latest accident to hit the world’s deadliest major coal mining industry. The blast was so violent it shook the surrounding area and nearby buildings partly collapsed.

The Xinxing mine in Hegang lies near China’s border with Russia. It is owned by the Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group, and produces 12-million tonnes of coal a year, Xinhua said, making it larger than most mines where accidents occur.

More than 3 000 people died in mine floods, explosions, collapses and other accidents in China in 2008. – Reuters

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