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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
China mine 'concealed death toll'
Families of trapped miners wait for news of their relatives at the Xishui Colliery in Shuozhou, Shanxi province, north China
Thousands of miners died in blasts in China last year
The managers of an illegal coal mine in China concealed the bodies of miners killed in a gas explosion earlier this month, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Officials at the mine in the central province of Shanxi reported that 19 miners had died on 2 July, but 36 were actually killed, Xinhua said.

An inquiry showed officials shipped bodies to other areas to hide the toll.

The mine was operating without official permits and had poor safety facilities, the agency reported.

China's coal mines are reputed to be the world's deadliest - more than 1,000 people have died in them this year.

Correspondents say increasing demand for energy has put pressure on mines in China to provide coal faster.

The unreported bodies were found in Ulanqab, a city in China's northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinhua said.

Mine operators are obliged by law to pay compensation to the families of miners killed on the job, according to the Associated Press news agency.

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