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Death toll from China landslide reaches 254

  • Story Highlights
  • 1,000 rescue workers have combed through 90 percent of inundated area
  • Deaths happened after torrential rain at unlicensed mine in Xiangfen, Shanxi
  • Iron-ore waste in a holding pond exceeded the pond's capacity
  • Authorities detained 13 people including chairman of Xinta Mining Company
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The death toll from a mud and rock slide that occured at an unlicensed mine last week in northern China has risen to 254 as rescue workers continue to recover more bodies, state-run media said Sunday.

More than 1,000 rescue workers have combed through 90 percent of the inundated area -- digging through hundreds of thousands of tons of slush, mud and rocks around a mine in Xiangfen county, the China Daily newspaper said.

The county is located in the country's Shanxi Province.

Crews have begun a new round of search in a 330-yard ditch filled with silt.

"This is the toughest phase of the ongoing rescue," the newspaper quoted Lian Zhedong, chief of the rescue headquarters, as saying.

The head of the county and the Communist Party chief of Xiangfen have been suspended from duty, the newspaper said.

Earlier, authorities detained 13 people. Among them are the board chairman of the Xinta Mining Company, the mine manager, a vice manager and accountant.

The deaths occurred after torrential rain on Monday at the Tashan Mine, which operated illegally.

The amount of iron-ore waste in a holding pond exceeded the pond's capacity, Xinhua said, and intense rain triggered a flow of mud and rocks that roared down a valley Monday to collapse a warehouse, bury homes and damage cars.

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The deluge also destroyed a three-story office building and a market.

The China Daily report said the economic loss from the disaster is an estimated 9.18 million yuan ($1.34 million).

All About ChinaHu JintaoWen Jiabao

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