"There was a fire which raged for an hour and half after this crash... It was a very bad fire."
State media said that the plane crashed about a kilometre from the runway in foggy weather.
The plane had taken off from Heilongjiang's capital of Harbin shortly before 9:00pm [13:00 GMT].
The aircraft was an E-190 jet manufactured by Embraer, the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate.
The last major passenger jet crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern airplane plunged into a lake in northern China shortly, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground.
An MD-11 cargo plane operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during takeoff from Shanghai's main airport last November. Three American crew members died while four others on board were injured.