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18 killed in N. China coal mine blast
Updated: 2006-03-14 19:13

The death toll has risen to 18 and three are still missing in a coal mine blast in Otog Banner in Ordos, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to local government reports on Tuesday.

The accident occurred at 3:25 a.m. on Monday while 34 miners were working underground. Thirteen survived the accident, including two who were seriously injured.

Li Zhongfu, director of the Rongsheng Colliery, is in police custody and the coal mine's account and funds have been frozen. Li, aged 43, is a native of Jixi, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

The coal mine is privately-owned with 900,000 tons of annual production capacity.

Investigators found the mine was being operated without a production safety license.

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