INTERNATIONAL

Hopes fade for trapped miners

BEIJING: Toxic gas hampered the search for 141 trapped coal miners on Monday following an explosion in central China, and an official said their chances of survival were ``extremely slight.'' At least 25 persons were confirmed dead. High levels of carbon monoxide kept rescuers from reaching the site of Sunday's disaster, 8 km from the mouth of the Chenjiashan coal mine in Shaanxi province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The accident came just weeks after another coal mine explosion killed 148 people elsewhere in central China in the country's deadliest mining accident since 2000. An official at the Shaanxi coal mine safety bureau said on Monday that hope was fading fast for the trapped miners. ``The rescue effort has been extremely difficult due to large concentrations of carbon monoxide,'' said the official, who would give only his surname, Chen. ``From my own experience, the odds that the 141 still underground remain alive are extremely slight.''

AP

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