The number of people killed by a fire at a poultry plant in northern China has risen, state media has reported.
The fire at the slaughterhouse near the north-eastern Chinese city of Changchun has so far now claimed the lives of 119 people and left a further 60 hospitalised, reports said on Monday night (3 June) local time.
At the latest count, the Changchun Municipal Health Bureau said 15 of the wounded were seriously injured and a further eight were in a “critical condition”.
The fire at the Jilin Baoyuanfeng poultry plant in Mishazi township in China’s Jilin province, was caused by three massive explosions early this morning, and is already one of the country’s deadliest industrial accidents in decades.
Five hundred firefighters and emergency vehicles continued to battle the blaze late into the evening, even as search, rescue and accident investigations took place.
More than 100 of the 300 workers were on duty when the fire broke out escaped, Chinese-language state media reported, adding rescue workers noted the plant’s narrow exits prevented colleagues from reaching safety. Police evacuated nearly 3,000 people from the area, with nearby residents complaining of headaches from the fumes.
China’s official Xinhua newswire has also reported relatives of victims have gathered at the site demanding an immediate announcement about the fire’s cause. This has yet to come, but Chinese state television CCTV quoted workers saying the fire may have started in a locker room, while other media have suggested an electrical fault and a chemical ammonia leak may have combined to trigger the explosions.
China’s President Xi Jinping and his premier Li Keqiang have called for an investigation.