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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:12 UK

Deadly explosion in Slovakia mine

Police outside the coal mine
Officials believe the miners all died in the initial explosion

A total of 20 miners have died in Slovakia following a blast at a mine, economy minister Lubomir Jahnatek says.

Seven bodies have so far been brought to the surface at the Handlova coal mine, and operations to recover the 13 still missing are continuing.

Nine men escaped with minor injuries following the explosion on Monday.

Officials said the blast was caused by a build-up of flammable gases as miners were tackling a fire. A day of national mourning will be held on Wednesday.

"After talks with the rescuers, it is clear that nobody could have survived the accident," Mr Jahnatek said on Tuesday.

slovakia map

Prime Minister Robert Fico said it was "an immense tragedy".

He has also ordered an independent investigation into the accident.

Rescue teams found six bodies on Monday after battling high temperatures and poor visibility to try to reach the site, which is some 330m (1,100ft) below ground.

Another body was recovered on Tuesday.

Handlova is located 200km (125 miles) north-east of the capital, Bratislava.



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