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EXPLOSION IN MINE SHAFT KILLS 64; 84 STILL MISSING

The death toll in a gas explosion in a Chinese coal mine rose to 64 today, and chances of finding 84 missing miners alive were remote, the government said.

The disaster Wednesday in the central province of Henan was the deadliest this year in China's accident-plagued mines. Newspapers carried front-page photos of anxious relatives waiting outside the mine as haggard rescuers carried out bodies wrapped in green canvas.

President Hu Jintao ordered local officials to use "every possible means" to find the missing miners.

The blast ripped through the Daping Mine on Wednesday when 446 miners were at work, according to the government. It said 298 escaped alive.

By this morning, there were no reports that any survivors had been found by the 1,000-member rescue force.

"The survival chance for the missing is quite slim," the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing unidentified local officials.

The state-owned Daping Mine employs 4,100 people.

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