At least 35 people have died and another 44 were trapped after a gas explosion at an unlicensed mine in central China, the national work safety agency said.

A city spokesman told the official Chinese news agency Xinhua that the explosion occurred in a coal pit in the city of Pingdingshan in Henan Province.

The spokesman said 93 workers were present at Xinhua Pit No 4 when the explosion took place.

He said that the mine was still under repair and had not been given authorisation to restart operations.