Another 110 miners were rescued from the Liuguantun mine in Hebei province after the blast on Wednesday afternoon, said the Xinhua news agency which had a reporter at the scene.

An official from the coal mine's district safety office said the mine shaft, owned by a company called Hengyuan Co. Ltd., was still under construction.

  

"They haven't started collecting coal from there yet," the official surnamed Zhang told AFP.

A total of 123 miners were working underground at the time, and by 7pm, only 27 miners had escaped, according to Xinhua.

Gas explosion

The incident comes 10 days after a gas explosion at the

state-run Dongfeng coal mine near Qitaihe city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang that killed 171 people, one of the worst mine accidents in recent years.

  

The Liuguantun mine, 164 km from Beijing, was formerly state-owned but is now privately-run, according to the China News Service website.

 

It produces 150,000 tons of coal a year, the website said.

  

Even as the latest mine disaster was reported, officials in central China's Henan province were struggling to rescue 42 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine for the fifth day on Wednesday.