A piece of heavy equipment at a steel plant in northeast China broke off while transporting molten steel, killing at least 32 workers and injuring two others on Wednesday, the state work safety watchdog said.

The accident occurred at the Qinghe Special Steel Corp. in Tieling, a city in Liaoning province, when a steel ladle "suddenly dropped and 30 tons of the liquid spilled out into a workshop five meters (16 feet) away," according to a statement on the Web site of the State Administration of Work Safety.

All 32 workers in the room were killed while two operators of the ladle were injured, the statement said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said earlier that the ladle fell on workers below but it wasn't clear if they were crushed or if the report conflicted with the work safety administration's statement.

An employee at the steel company said an investigation was under way and refused to give any details. A man who answered the telephone at the Tieling city government said he was "unclear" about the situation.

The work safety statement said those responsible for the incident were "under control" but did not elaborate.

Industrial accidents killed more than 127,000 people in China in 2005. Last year, state media reported that the government will spend nearly $60 billion over the next five years to reduce the high death toll in coal mines and other dangerous workplaces.