Chinese Mine Death Toll Hits 122

Rescuers pulled more bodies from a coal mine in central China, raising the confirmed death toll to 122 in a massive gas explosion, with 26 miners still missing, the government said Tuesday.

Rescuers were still searching for survivors in the Daping Mine (search) near the central city of Zhengzhou (search), where the blast occurred Oct. 20, though the government has said there is little chance that any missing miners are still alive. The earlier death toll was 86.

The latest deaths make the explosion China's deadliest mine accident since 2000, when an underground explosion killed 162 people in a coal mine in the southern province of Guizhou (search).

The last reported toll had been 86. The announcement of the higher figure, carried by the official Xinhua News Agency, gave no details on where the additional bodies were found.

Earlier reports said missing miners were believed to be in an area some 1,000 feet below ground and two miles from the entrance of the huge, state-owned mine.

China's coal mines are the world's most dangerous, with 4,153 deaths reported in the first nine months of this year in fires, floods and other disasters. Accidents often are blamed on negligence or lack of fire and ventilation equipment.

Most fatalities are reported in small, privately run mines that lack safety equipment or operating licenses. But the Daping Mine is reportedly one of China's biggest, employing 4,100 people.