China coal mine
Rescuers prepare to enter the Xinxing coal mine to search for survivors following a gas explosion at the mine in Hegang, Heilongjiang province, Nov. 22, 2009. Reuters/Aly Song

Twenty-one people have been killed and one remains missing after a fire at a coal mine in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang Friday night, state media reported Saturday. The fire at the Xinghua mine in the city of Jixi was brought under control, authorities reportedly said.

Xinhua News Agency reported that 38 people were working in the mine, owned by the Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group. Rescuers recovered 21 bodies from the mine, and the provincial work safety administration confirmed the death toll, the Associated Press reported.

Sixteen people were pulled to safety following the blaze, which was caused after an angle belt caught fire, according to reports. However, authorities are yet to confirm the cause of the incident.

China, which is the world's largest producer of coal, has been under pressure to improve safety standards in the poorly regulated sector.

Friday's fire is the deadliest mine incident since April this year, when a water leak at a coal mine killed 21 people in the northern city of Datong in Shanxi province.

Last year, accidents in Chinese coal mines claimed the lives of over 900 people.