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Death toll from Henan colliery blast rises to 42

The death toll from a coal mine gas explosion in central China's Henan Province yesterday rose to 42 with 37 still trapped underground, the local safety watchdog said this morning.

The deadly gas blast took place around 1 a.m. Tuesday in the Xinhua No.4 pit in Xinhua District of Pingdingshan City, said a spokesman with the Henan Provincial Bureau of Work Safety.

A total of 93 people were working in the pit when the accident happened, 14 of whom managed to escape.

The accident has aroused the attention of top leadership, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang arrived in Pingdingshan with a government delegation at 1:10 pm yesterday.

Qi Tongyan, deputy head of Xinhua District of Pingdingshan City, and Zhang Xizhi, a coal industry administration official of the city, were dismissed from their posts yesterday afternoon, about 10 hours after the deadly gas blast.


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