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Death toll rises to 37 in Sichuan colliery blast

(Xinhua)

13:24, August 31, 2012

PANZHIHUA, Sichuan, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-seven miners have been confirmed dead and ten others were still unaccounted for after Wednesday's gas explosion in a coal mine in the southwestern province of Sichuan, rescuers said on Friday.

As of 1 a.m. Friday, the rescuers have retrieved 34 bodies, and six miners were pulled out alive from Wednesday night to Friday morning, the search and rescue headquarters told Xinhua.

A total of 154 miners were working underground when the blast hit the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua City at around 6 p.m. Wednesday, and 104 of them have escaped on their own or have been pulled out of the shaft. Three miners died on their way to hospital.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, four hospitals in Panzhihua had received 54 miners, including 10 who were seriously injured and seven in critical condition, the provincial health department said.

Of the injured, 50 miners suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the other four suffered burn-related injuries, the health department said, adding that most of the injured are in stable condition.

The coal mine, some 750 km southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu, is owned by Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co., Ltd.

Three owners of the mine have been taken into police custody and the mine's accounts have been frozen.

An investigation into the accident is underway.

Meanwhile, provincial authorities have ordered a thorough probe and overhaul on coal mines and other hazardous businesses.

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