URGENT

Passenger trains collide in eastern China, number of casualties not known

Eds: UPDATES with additional details of trains, head of Ministry of Railways headed to site.

BEIJING (AP) -- Two passenger trains collided in eastern China before dawn Monday, but the number of casualties was not immediately known, a state news agency reported.

The crash happened about 4:40 a.m. in the city of Zibo in Shandong province, Xinhua News Agency said. One train was headed from Beijing to Qingdao, and the other was traveling from Yantai to Xuzhou.

The Xinhua report did not immediately have further details about the crash.

The head of the Ministry of Railways, Liu Zhijun, was headed to the site to oversee rescue efforts, the Web site of the Shandong government said.

In January, 18 people died when a train hurtling through the night at more than 75 mph slammed into a group of about 100 workers carrying out track maintenance near the city of Anqiu in Shandong province.