4 Jun 2013

China poultry plant fire toll rising

5:43 am on 4 June 2013

The death toll from a fire at a poultry processing plant in northeast China has risen to 119.

The fire broke out just after dawn on Monday near Dehui in Jilin province.

The fire is now said to have been mostly put out and bodies are being recovered.

China Central Television showed thick black smoke pouring from a one-storey building.

The China News Service reported ammonia gas leaks might have caused the explosions.

The Xinhua news agency said more than 300 employes were in the plant at the time.

Relatives gathered outside the building to demanding a government investigation and announcement of the cause of the accident as soon as possible, Xinhua said.

Phoenix Television in Hong Kong quoted family members as saying that the doors were always kept locked during working hours during which workers were forbidden to leave and that fire drills were never carried out.

Jilin is a largely agricultural province and an important grower of corn and soy beans.

The slaughterhouse is owned by a small feed and poultry producer called Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company, according to the government.