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China mine blast death toll reaches 134

QITAIHE, China, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A coal mine explosion in China has killed at least 134 miners and left 15 missing Monday in the northeastern city of Qitaihe.

Investigators said a coal-dust caught fire and knocked out the ventilation system in the shaft, but as of Monday morning the ventilation system was working again, the China Daily reported.

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At the time of the accident in the Dongfeng Coal Mine, Sunday night, 221 miners were working underground.

A rescue team of 126 people searched for the missing miners and hoisted survivors to the surface.

The mine, located in Heilongjiang province, is run by a branch of the Longmei Group, a mining conglomerate of four state-owned coal businesses.

China's mines are considered the deadliest in the world, and 3,000 deaths have been reported this year. However, independent estimates say the real figure could be as high as 20,000, as many mines are illegal and a number of deaths go unreported, Australia's Special Broadcasting Service reported.

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