Of the 131 people working at the Tonghua mine, 101 were able to escape, Xinhua, China's official news agency, reported.

Seventy-seven people were injured in the blast.

China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world, with about 3,000 fatalities across the country in 2008.

Despite pledges by the government to improve safety, both poor regulations and China's growing demand for coal have contributed to the dangers for China's miners.