Philippines mine blast kills 54

MANILA (AFP) - The death toll from a huge gas explosion in the Philippines' biggest coal mine rose to 54 as rescuers battled against noxious fumes to find 20 workers still missing one day after the accident.

Asked whether any of the missing miners was still alive, Debbie Diokno, a spokeswoman of the state-owned energy giant Philippine National Oil Co., replied 'it's hard to say'. The blast ripped through the remote colliery near Malangas, 470 miles south of Manila, on Monday night, trapping 74 out of the 170 miners working in underground tunnels at the time. A total of 96 other miners have been rescued.

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