Deathtoll from China mudslide climbs to 178

BEIJING Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:57pm IST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - The death toll from a mudslide that resulted from a collapsed mine waste reservoir earlier this week in northern China has climbed to 178, state media said on Friday.

"Rescue work is still being carried out urgently," the official Xinhua news agency said, with rescuers have searched 90 percent of the area covered by the mud.

Heavy rain triggered the disintegration of the holding pond at the iron mine in Shanxi province after it had been overfilled with waste ore, state media quoted an initial investigation as saying.

The final death toll from the wall of mud that roared through a market and submerged some buildings to their roofs is expected to climb higher as more bodies are discovered.

Many of the victims were apparently migrant workers from southwest China. It may be harder to pin down the number of dead and missing because they have no family in the area.

China's mines are the world's most dangerous, killing nearly 3,800 people last year, as high demand for raw materials from a booming economy pushes managers to cut safety corners.

Most victims are coal miners. But strong iron ore demand has encouraged miners to dig up even low-grade ore, often with little regard for safety or the environment.

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