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Fifteen die in Pakistan coal mine blast

At least 15 miners died after a gas explosion at a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan, officials said yesterday.

The explosion took place on Tuesday evening after a buildup of gas in the mine owned by a private company in Sinjidi, about 45 kilometres east of the southwestern city of Quetta, the provincial Chief Inspector of Mines Maqbool Hussain told Reuters.

Mr Hussain said four badly burned bodies had been retrieved from the 770-metre-deep mine. He said efforts were underway to retrieve 11 others buried under the rubble. "The mine totally collapsed," he said. "There is no chance of any survivors."

Mining accidents are not uncommon in Pakistan, where safety standards, especially at private mines, can be lax.

The country has huge coal reserves estimated at more than 184 billion tonnes. It produces four million tonnes of coal annually, most of which is consumed by brick-making kilns.

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