Seven miners were killed and nine were injured at a coal mine in Eastern Ukraine, following a methane blast, according to officials.

The incident occurred at the Pivnichna mine in Ukraine’s mineral-rich Donetsk region, on Monday night.

Ukraine’s emergencies ministry said that rescue teams were immediately sent to the affected area and the bodies were recovered in the early hours of Tuesday.

Work at the mine has been suspended.

The cause of the explosion at the state-run Pivnichna mine is still unknown and an investigation is being carried out. Ukrainian media officials have suggested that there may have been a gas leak.

"Ukrainian media officials have suggested that there may have been a gas leak."

In 2011, an explosion at the Suhodolskaya-Vostochnaya coal mine in Eastern Ukraine, left at least 17 dead and nine missing.

An explosion that took place in 2007 at Zasyadko mine in the Donetsk area is said to have killed more than 100 miners.

Coal mining is one of the biggest industries in Eastern Ukraine and the country’s coal industry employs about 500,000 people.

Ukraine has mines with poor safety records and those in the Donbas region are considered as some of the most hazardous mines in the world, due to the working depths as a result of natural depletion, high numbers of methane explosions, coal dust explosions and rock burst dangers.

More than 90% of Ukraine’s coal production comes from the Donbas region.

Image: Ukraine mines have poor safety records. Photo: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/pakorn.