At least 12 people have died in a blast at a fireworks factory in the city of Liling, south-eastern China.

The incident also left 33 people, including three passers-by, injured. Another two are missing.

The blast occurred at the Nanyang Export Fireworks Factory in Baofeng Village on Monday afternoon, news agency Xinhua reported.

Twenty-six of the injured people are in a hospital in Liling, while four severely injured have been transferred to a hospital in Zhuzhou City.

A rescue operation is still under way.

The city government said the factory was licensed and the cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Similar incidents have already occurred in China, where the fireworks industry suffers from lax controls.

Last February, a truck carrying some fireworks exploded on a highway in the Henan province, killing at least five people.

In 2013, a fireworks factory blast in Guanxi killed 11 people.