Death toll rises to about 50 in coal mine explosion 11-30-2004 09:46

Rescuers in northwest China's Shaanxi Province are continuing frantic efforts to save miners, trapped underground, after an explosion on Sunday. Rescue workers say that with the discovery of more than 20 bodies, the death toll has now risen to around 50.

It's been nearly 48 hours since Sunday morning's gas explosion. Rescuers are still trying their best to search for the trapped workers. Even though the main ventilation system was repaired on Monday morning, some working areas are still unsafe for rescue staff.

And making matters worse, rescuers who came back from the tunnels say they saw light blue smoke underground. Experts explain the coal bed could be on fire.

Worried families of the trapped miners are gathered around the mouth of the mine and at the hospital, waiting for news about their husbands, fathers, sons or brothers. Temperatures have dropped below zero.

An investigation team sent by the State Council arrived at the mine on Sunday night and visited injured miners. A working team has been sent to the site to supervise the rescue efforts. The provincial government has ordered all mines in Shaanxi with high gas density to halt their operation for a safety inspection.


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