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Pakistan coal mine blast kills three, 45 missing

   QUETTA, Pakistan (AFP) - At least three miners were killed and 45 others trapped underground when explosions triggered a collapse in a coal mine in Pakistan's Baluchistan province on Sunday, officials said.

   A total of 48 miners were working around 1,200 metres (1,300 yards) underground in the mine and the officials said hopes for the survival of the missing were slim.

   The mine in the far-flung Sorange district of the insurgency-torn province was poorly ventilated and gas accumulated, followed by three blasts, they said.

   "We have retrieved three dead bodies and are trying to rescue 45 other miners trapped inside but there are less chances of their survival" Mohammad Iftikhar, provincial chief inspector of mines, told AFP.

   "Miners died of suffocation, still a huge quantity of gas is causing difficulties in rescue work," Iftikhar said.

   Baluchistan's home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani confirmed the incident.

   The coal mine is run by the state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

   Rich in mineral wealth, Baluchistan is plagued by an insurgency blamed on nationalist tribesmen demanding more jobs and royalties from the region's natural resources. Hundreds of people have died in the violence since 2004.

   Most coal mines in the impoverished province are notorious for poor safety standards and facilities. Similar deadly accidents have occurred in the past.