Chinese rescuers recover more bodies in blast-shattered mine, raising death toll to 166

The death toll from a coal mine explosion in northeastern China rose to 166 Friday with the discovery of two more bodies, the government said. Rescuers continued to comb debris for five miners still missing after Sunday's blast at the Dongfeng Coal Mine in Heilongjiang province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Authorities have arrested at least two Dongfeng administrative officials for dereliction of duty, and the mine's license has been revoked following the massive explosion. Xinhua quoted Zhang Chengxiang, the director of the provincial work safety bureau, as saying that the mine had "serious problems" in its management.

China's mines are the deadliest in the world, with fires, floods, cave-ins and other disasters reported almost daily. The government has unveiled one initiative after another to try to stem the carnage, vowing to step up safety inspections and punish mine owners who value profits over lives.

Many of the mine disasters are blamed on managers who ignore safety rules or fail to install required ventilation or fire control equipment, often in collusion with local officials. The issue is further complicated by the country's soaring demands for power to drive its booming economy, the AP reported.

Mine accidents in China killed 6,027 people last year, according to government figures _ a rate of 16 deaths each day. A.M.

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