(CNN) -- At least 17 people have died from a gas leak at a steel plant in China's northern Hebei province, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported early Thursday.
The leak began at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the Ganglu Iron and Steel Company in Zunhua City, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Beijing, said a spokesman for the municipal government of Tangshan, according to Xinhua.
The workers were believed to have been poisoned by carbon monoxide, the spokesman said.
Forty-four people were working near the blast furnace where the leak occurred at the time of the accident, he said. Two people died instantly, while 15 others died later at the hospital.
The remaining workers were hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
Company officials have shut down the blast furnace and no further leaks were reported, Xinhua said.
The news agency said Ganglu is a seven-year-old company that employs 7,000 people with an annual output of 3 million tons of steel products.