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Tuesday, April 14, 1998 Published at 05:53 GMT 06:53 UK

World: Africa

Over 50 dead in Tanzanian mining disaster

State radio in Tanzania says it is believed more than 56 miners were killed after heavy rains flooded a number of mine shafts in the north of the country last week.

Officials say the total number of casualties could be much higher, because more men may have been underground without permission.

Work to pump water from the shafts in the Mirarani area of Arusha Province has been hampered by further rainfall.

Thursday's flooding caused 14 pits to collapse and some of the miners were caught as deep as 1,000 feet below the ground. Rescuers brought out 21 miners alive. The Tanzanian Prime Minister, Frederick Sumaye, who visited the area on Sunday, promised that more rescue equipment would be sent from the capital.

The BBC East Africa correspondent says the mines - a source of the semi-precious stone Tanzanite - are relatively primitive, and lacking in proper safety equipment.

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