By Agence France-Presse
A cooling tower platform plunged to the ground in the early hours, trapping an unknown number of people beneath it, Xinhua said. Rescue efforts were under way.
Pictures of the scene in Fengcheng, in the central province of Jiangxi, showed a grey mass of concrete slabs and steel girders splayed in a heap on the ground, with a row of red fire engines standing at the ready.
Industrial accidents are common in China, where safety standards are often laxly enforced.
In August a pipeline explosion at a coal-fired power plant in the neighbouring province of Hubei killed 21.
Earlier this summer more than 130 people were taken to hospital after chemicals leaked from a plant in eastern China.
In April a chemical fire burned for 16 hours in the coastal province of Jiangsu after an explosion at a facility storing chemicals and fuel, requiring 400 firefighters to quell the flames.