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Fire kills 119 at poultry plant in northeast China

Monday - 6/3/2013, 8:10am  ET

BEIJING (AP) -- A fire that trapped workers in a cluttered slaughterhouse in northeastern China has killed at least 119 people.

Reports and officials say the massive fire broke out at a poultry plant today and several dozen people also were hurt. The official Xinhua (shihn-wah) News Agency says the fire appeared to have been sparked by three early-morning explosions.

The provincial fire department, on its microblog, attributed the blasts to a leak of ammonia, a gas that is kept pressurized as part of the cooling system in meat processing plants.

It wasn't clear how many workers had been accounted for and a provincial government media official, who refused to give his name, said he expected the death toll to rise further.

Xinhua quoted survivors as saying the plant's "complicated" interior, narrow exits and a locked front gate made escape difficult.

Many Chinese workplaces have lax safety standards.


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