Twenty-six people are missing after the incident in the city of Hegang in Heilongjiang province, the official China News Service reported.

Accidents in China's mines are a regular occurrence, with safety standards often ignored in drive to meet the country's demand for coal.

Nearly 3,800 people died in Chinese coal mines last year, according to official figures.

Independent analysts say the figure could be much higher as some accidents go unreported to the authorities.