Death toll in mosque collapse rises to 8 in NW China

2008-07-25 02:18:23 GMT       2008-07-25 10:18:23 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

XINING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the collapse of a mosque in northwest China rose to eight on Friday, and rescuers warned it could continue to climb as they searched the rubble.

One of the four severely injured people taken to hospital after the collapse on Thursday died after failing to respond to treatment, and one of the dead was a child, said an official with the Qinghai provincial emergency rescue and fire brigade.

Rescuers had found 31 injured and dead at the mosque, which was under construction in Taer Town of Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County.

Three were still in critical condition and 20 others suffered minor injuries. All belonged to the Hui ethnic group.

The mosque collapsed at about 5:40 p.m. on Thursday. Officials have ruled the earthquake in the neighboring provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces earlier in the day as the cause.

They are investigating the possibility that a supporting beam may have failed.

"The exact number of people at the scene is still unknown. Casualties may increase as more people could be buried in the debris," a rescue spokesman said from the site, 44 km from the provincial capital of Xining.

Taer town, in the center of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau, has residents of more than 38,000, the majority of whom are ethnic Hui people.

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