A fire in a gold mine in southern Peru has killed at least 27 workers, according to the mining company.

The Yanaquihua mining company said the victims were working an overnight shift for a contractor at the Sermigold mine in the Arequipa region. A statement from the company said 175 workers had been rescued.

Government officials said the cause of the incident was under investigation with early reports saying preliminary investigations indicated an explosion might have been set off by a short circuit in a part of the mine about 100 metres below the surface.

Peru Miners
Relatives of trapped miners wait outside the Sermigold mine in Arequipa, Peru (Fernando Mojito/AP)

The Public Ministry of Arequipa’s Fiscal District said investigators were working to clarify what happened.

Relatives of the victims were brought by buses to the mine in Yanaquihua where some sat at the entrance to the mine to wait for the bodies of their loved ones.

Marcelina Aguirre said her husband was among the dead and had told her there were risks at the mine.

“We are very worried, very sad we are, to lose a husband, leaving two abandoned children,” she said.