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Gaza man killed in tunnel collapse

Jan. 5, 2012 9:42 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 7, 2012 2:28 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A man was killed and another injured when a tunnel collapsed under the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning.

Bilal Shaat, 24, from Khan Younis, died while working in the underground passage near al-Salam neighborhood in southern Rafah, officials said.

An injured colleague was transferred to Abu Yousef al Najar hospital in Rafah along with Shaat's body, they added.

Since Israel tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, goods smuggled in from Egypt through underground tunnels have provided a lifeline to the coastal enclave.

Under siege, Gaza's economy collapsed and a 2011 UN study found that unemployment rates in Gaza were among the highest in the world.

Gaza officials say over 160 young men have died at work in smuggling tunnels, but with a lack of alternatives many are still drawn to the hazardous profession.

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