At least 12 people have been killed and two others injured in a coal mine blast in southwestern China, state media has reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the gas explosion occurred on Friday night in Pingba county in Guizhou province.

The agency said the coal mine was operating illegally and that the operators had lied about the number of trapped miners and deaths. An investigation is under way, Xinhua said.

A work safety official from the city of Anshun, which administers Pingba, said the mine was licensed and operated privately.

The official gave only his last name of Lin, as is customary among low-level Chinese government employees.

Although authorities have tightened safety in recent years, China's mines are the deadliest in the world and regulations are often ignored.

Source: AP