Landslide in northern China kills 258

Rescuers recovered four more bodies Tuesday from a deadly landslide in northern China, bringing the death toll to 258, state media said.

The official Xinhua News agency said three bodies were pulled from a collapsed house, while another was found amid nearby debris in Shanxi province's Xiangfen county. The State Administration of Work Safety said 159 bodies had been identified as of Tuesday.

The Sept. 8 landslide was triggered by the collapse of an illegal mining dump that buried a village of 1,300 residents in a torrent of mud and industrial mining waste. The governor of Shanxi has resigned from his post while his deputy was fired.

Thirty-four people remain hospitalized and four patients have been upgraded from critical to stable condition.

Authorities have refused to estimate how many people remain buried under the debris that the landslide dumped on the village of Yunhe. The tally could rise as more than 1,000 rescue workers comb through 74 acres (30 hectares) of sludge and mining waste covering the area, where hundreds more people could be buried.

The disaster underscores two major public safety concerns in China: the failure to enforce protective measures in the country's notoriously deadly mines, and the unsound state of many of its bridges, dams and other aging infrastructure.

An initial investigation found that the retaining wall of a mine dump had collapsed after heavy rains. The mine, operated by Tashan Mine Co. had been operating without a valid license.

As part of the political fallout over the incident, Shanxi Gov. Meng Xuenong resigned on Sunday, while his deputy was fired. Meng was appointed as governor in April 2007.

Several local officials have also been suspended from duty while 13 top officials from the mining company have been taken into police custody.

Xinhua said the accident led to direct economic losses of 9.18 million yuan (US$1.34 million).

Families of victims who died will get compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$29,300) while people injured in the landslide will be paid compensation ranging from 50,000 yuan to 150,000 yuan (US$7,350 to US$22,060) along with a monthly subsidy up to 300 yuan (US$44), the local government said Tuesday.

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