A late-night fire at a coal mine killed 21 people and left one missing in China's northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

State-run Xinhua news agency said on Saturday that the fire at the Xinghua mine in the city of Jixi was brought under control, and 21 bodies were recovered from the mine - owned by the Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group.

Xinhua said 38 miners were working underground when an angle belt caught fire. Sixteen people were pulled to safety.

The provincial work safety administration confirmed the death toll on Saturday.

A work safety employee, who only gave his family name, Xing, said rescuers were searching for the missing person.

China's mines are among the deadliest in the world. Accidents killed 931 people last year, a work safety official said in March.

China - the world's largest producer of coal - is grappling to improve standards in the poorly regulated sector. Many accidents are caused by corrupt bosses seeking profits over worker safety.

 

Source: Agencies