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Death Toll in China Mine Explosion at 76

July 12, 2005

BEIJING (AP) _ The death toll in a coal mine explosion in China’s far west has reached 76, and rescuers were searching for seven others, the government said Tuesday.

The explosion tore through the Shenlong Coal Mine in the Xinjiang region early Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Earlier, it said 65 miners died.

China’s coal mines are the world’s deadliest, with explosions, floods and fires killing thousands of workers each year. Accidents often are blamed on lack of safety equipment and lax safety rules.

Accidents killed 1,113 coal miners in the first three months of this year _ up 21 percent from the same period of 2004, according to the government.

Efforts to shut down dangerous mines have been complicated by the country’s soaring demands for power to drive its booming economy.

Most of China’s miners work in coal mines, but fatalities also were reported this year in gold, tin and other mines.

Mining accidents often are blamed on lack of required ventilation and fire-control equipment, poor maintenance or indifference to safety rules.

Update hourly