Up to 24 miners are missing in New Zealand after an explosion blasted through Pike River Coal mine today.

Early reports suggested that at least 30 people were trapped in the mine, which reaches up to 1,500m underground, but five workers have since emerged.

A body was said to be on its way to hospital but the West Coast District Health Board has not confirmed the death, according to Newstalk ZB.

The mayor of Greymouth told reporters in the area that the situation was quite severe but rescuers are at the site, along with families of the missing miners.

The mine is close to the Strongman Mine, where an underground explosion killed 19 miners in 1967.