05/06/2005, 00.00

Death toll from mine accidents rises to 51

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The death toll from two separate Chinese mine accidents had risen to 51 on Friday, state media and officials said, highlighting the risks of one of the nation's most dangerous professions.

At the flooded Tengda coal mine near Jiaohe city in northeastern Jilin province, rescue workers have now discovered 29 bodies, a work safety official said by telephone.

"There's one worker missing, and we're not stopping our rescue work until he's accounted for," the official said.

Meanwhile, 22 miners were confirmed dead at a coal mine in Hancheng city in northwest China's Shaanxi province after a gas explosion ripped through the shaft last week.

China has the deadliest mines in the world, with official figures showing that more than 6,000 miners died in accidents last year. Independent estimates say as many as 20,000 miners could have died.

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