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Toll hits 122 in China mine explosion

Beijing on Tuesday confirmed that at least 122 had died in a large gas explosion in a coal mine in south-central China.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Rescuers pulled more bodies from a coal mine in central China, raising the confirmed death toll to 122 in a massive gas explosion, with 26 miners still missing, the government said Tuesday.

Rescuers were still searching for survivors from the Oct. 20 blast in the Daping Mine near the central city of Zhengzhou, though the government has said there is little chance of finding any missing miners still alive.

The latest confirmed death toll makes the explosion China’s deadliest mine accident since 2000, when an underground blast killed 162 people in a coal mine in the southern province of Guizhou.

Rescuers searching for missing workers on Tuesday opened a passage that had been blocked by the explosion and found another 36 bodies, raising the confirmed death toll to 122, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Water was being drained from the 3,900-foot-long passage, and rescuers were digging in an effort to find more of the missing, the report said.

Earlier reports said missing miners were believed to be in an area some 1,000 feet below ground and two miles from the entrance of the huge, state-owned mine.

China’s coal mines are the world’s most dangerous, with 4,153 deaths reported in the first nine months of this year in fires, floods and other disasters. Accidents often are blamed on negligence or lack of fire and ventilation equipment.

Most fatalities are reported in small, privately run mines that lack safety equipment or operating licenses. But the Daping Mine is reportedly one of China’s biggest, employing 4,100 people.

Authorities haven’t announced a possible cause of the disaster.