A gas explosion at Jinshangou coal mine in Chongqing, southwest China has reportedly killed at least 15 miners, with 20 others missing.

The explosion occurred at a privately-owned mine, which is licensed to produce 60,000 tons of coal annually, when 35 miners were working underground.

China’s national regulator State Administration of Work Safety has launched an investigation into the accident, The Australian reported.

Meanwhile, the local authority has also ordered for temporary closure of other coal mines in the region for safety investigation.

However, two men have managed to escaped from the mine, shortly after the explosion.

Chongqing Deputy Mayor Ma Huaping was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying: "We are still working all-out to search for the 20 missing miners, and will exert our utmost as long as there's still a ray of hope.”

More than 200 rescue workers including firefighters, armed police and mine experts are searching for the missing miners at the Jinshangou mine in the town of Laisu in the Chongqing Municipality’s Yongchuan district.

In January 2016, a gypsum mine in Shandong province in China collapsed, trapping four miners who were rescued after 36 days, BBC reported.

According to data from the State Administration of Work Safety, the measures taken by the government resulted in sharp reduction of coalmining deaths in recent years, with fatalities dropping to 768 in 2015 from a record 6,995 in 2002.