Beijing, Nov 21: Twenty-one workers were today killed and one other person went missing when a fire engulfed a state-owned coal mine in northeast China, one of the deadliest accidents to hit the world’s largest producer of coal. Rescuers have found bodies of 21 workers and are searching for another missing person after a coal mine caught fire in Heilongjiang Province late evening yesterday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.(Read: Earth may have got its oxygen from blue-green algae)

A total of 38 miners were working down in the shaft when the fire broke out, and 16 of them managed to escape. The fire broke out at the mine in Jixi city operated by the state-owned Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group. The government said the fire was under control and no secondary disaster had been reported, it said.

Accidents have become common as energy hungry China depends a lot on coal supplies to fire its economy. China is the world’s largest producer of coal. This 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. In August, 10 people were killed in two separate accidents at coal mines in China. In October, one person was killed in Shandong province.