(QHA) -

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament says at least 32 people have been killed in a coal mine blast in the separatist-held eastern city of Donetsk.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Hroysman told lawmakers "a tragedy occurred this morning at the Zasyadko mine. There are dead -- at the moment, 32 people."

"Let us honor the memory of these laborers," he said.

Russian-backed separatist authorities in Donetsk said earlier that 73 people were feared trapped in the huge mine after a methane blast.

An emergency official in the self-proclaimed government, Yuliana Bedilo (eds: a woman), said 14 people were injured.

She said the blast was not caused by an artillery strike.

Donetsk has frequently been hit by artillery during the conflict between the Russian-backed rebels and government forces, which has killed more than 6,000 people since April.

Fighting has subsided following a February 12 cease-fire deal.