119 Killed in NE China Workshop Fire
   2013-06-03 11:33:42    CRIENGLISH.com/Xinhua      Web Editor: Jiang Aitao

A photo taken on Monday, June 3, 2013 shows the scene of a fire at a poultry processing plant fire in Dehui City, northeast China's Jilin Province. [Photo: Chinanews.com]

Related: Chinese Leaders Demand All-out Rescue Efforts after Deadly Fire

                Deadly Fire Sparks Work Safety Concerns

A fire that engulfed a slaughterhouse in northeast China's Jilin Province on Monday has killed at least 119 people, according to the provincial government.

In a statement on its official micro blog on weibo.com, the Information Office of the Jilin Provincial People's Government said the death toll had risen to 119 by 4:25 p.m. Monday. Rescue work is still underway.

The fire broke out at 6:06 a.m. in the slaughterhouse owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City, about 100 km northeast of the provincial capital Changchun.

Over 300 workers were in the plant when the fire began, survivors told Xinhua, adding they heard a sudden bang and then witnessed dark smoke.

About 100 workers have managed to escape from the plant, the gate of which was locked when the fire broke out, they added.

"I started working at 6 a.m. along with another 100 workers in my workshop. There were two workshops in the plant," said Wang Fengya, a 44-year-old female worker who was burnt in escaping.

"Soon after, someone shouted 'run away!' and we quickly ran to the exit, which is about 40 meters away from my seat. Suddenly, the lights inside went out and the plant got quite dark," said Wang, adding that her legs felt like jelly as she fled.

Wang said she fell down and hurt herself in escaping. "When I finally ran out and looked back at the plant, I saw high flames," she added.

Wang and another three workers were sent to the Changchun Central Hospital with light injuries.

Slaughterhouse worker Guo Yan stood outside the police cordon encirling the burned-down factory, waiting for a relative and co-worker trapped in the plant.

Guo, earning about 2,000 yuan (326 U.S. dollars) a month, worked long hours to finance her daughter's schooling.

The complicated interior structure of the prefabricated plant in which the fire broke out and the narrow exits have added difficulties to the rescue work, sources with rescue forces said.

The building's steel frame and dense smoke were seen at the scene after the fire was put out at noon.

The environmental watchdog has begun monitoring the environmental impact of the fire.

People living nearby said they could smell a pungent odor and some suffered headaches.

Some victims' families have arrived at the scene and demanded the government investigate and announce the cause of the accident as soon as possible.

Established in September 2009, Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company has 1,200 employees and an annual output amounting to 67,000 tonnes of chicken products.

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