A cache of explosives at the home of a coal mine manager blew up in a town in northern China, killing him and at least 20 children at a nearby grade school, news reports said Thursday.

The explosion occurred Wednesday in Kecheng (search), a town in Shanxi province, one of China's biggest coal-mining regions, newspapers reported.

"Grade school students who were in class were buried," the Shanxi Commercial News said. It said at least 20 children were killed.

The mine manager, identified as Lu Maolin, was among the dead and his wife was injured, the Commercial News and the Shanxi Evening News (search) reported. They said an unspecified number of injured children from the Beixin Village Elementary School were hospitalized.

A man who answered the phone at the county government office said he had no additional information and calls to local fire and other offices weren't answered.

China's coal mining industry is the world's deadliest, with thousands of deaths reported every year despite a marathon government safety crackdown.

The country also suffers hundreds of deaths a year from the mishandling of explosives used for mining, construction and fireworks manufacturing.