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Monday, March 21, 2005; Page A13

60 Bodies Recovered After China Mine Blast

BEIJING -- Rescue workers in northern China had recovered 60 bodies and were searching for nine missing miners after an explosion tore through a coal mine, the government said Sunday.

The blast occurred Saturday at the Xishui Colliery in Shuozhou, a major coal mining area in Shanxi province. Police have detained four mine owners, the official New China News Agency said.

China Central Television said the ventilation system had been turned back on but did not give any other details.

Xishui Colliery had been ordered to suspend production after safety problems were discovered last November, but work had resumed "in defiance of the order," the news agency said, quoting an unidentified official with the provincial coal mine supervision office.

It said 20 workers who were trapped had been from a neighboring mine whose wall collapsed from the impact. That mine was operating with government approval, it said.

Thousands of people die every year from explosions, floods and cave-ins in China's coal mines.


• QUETTA, Pakistan -- The number of people killed in Saturday's bombing of a festival at a Shiite Muslim shrine rose to at least 46. Frightened pilgrims jammed onto buses trying to escape the southwestern village that was hosting the annual veneration of a Shiite saint.

TOKYO -- Pirates have released three sailors kidnapped in the busy shipping lane between Malaysia and Indonesia, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Two Japanese and a Filipino were abducted last week when pirates attacked a Japanese-registered tugboat in the Malacca Strait. The rest of the tugboat's crew later arrived safely in Malaysia.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the sailors were released early Monday in the southern Thai province of Satun. Thai authorities found them in a small boat about 12 miles off the coast, NHK said.

A ministry official declined to say whether a ransom was paid.


• LONDON -- The father of a British soldier killed in Iraq said he would challenge Prime Minister Tony Blair for his seat in Parliament.

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