Fire in Chinese poultry slaughterhouse kills 113 people
A huge fire broke out in a poultry factory in northeastern China on Monday. Workers were trapped inside a cluttered slaughterhouse and according to official reports at least 113 people were killed as well as numerous people being reported as injured.
The official Xinhau News Agency said that the fire is said to be been caused by three early morning explosions. The fire department that attended the blaze said that the cause of the fire was due to a leak of ammonia which is a gas that is used in the cooling system in the meat processing plant. The State broadcaster CCTV said that the it happened during a shift change at the plant and could have originated in a locker room. There were said to be over 350 workers at the plant.
The plant was said to have a very complicated interior with narrow exits and corridors, a locked front gate and crowded conditions that made escape very hard especially with the lights going out.
It was around 6AM that the first alarms were raised by workers. At around this time the lights went out which increased the levels of panic. By noon, the fire had been mostly extinguished and bodies where being removed from the plant.
The fire highlighted the extreme lax safety standards at many Chinese workplaces. Jason Yan who is a technical director in the US Grains council in Beijing said that safety comes second after maximising production and energy efficiency.
“I’m sure they consider some aspects of safety design. However, I think safety, to me, is not the first priority in their design plan,” Yan said. Lax standards in China are often linked to corruption, prioritisation of efficiency and poor enforcement of safety rules.
The company that own the plant, Jilin Baoyuanfeng, produce over 67,000 tons of chicken per year and employ 1,200 people. The plant is located near Dehui which is in North Eastern China about 250 miles away from Beijing. Jilin Baoyuanfeng is a new company that was established in 2009 only and the plant is also said to be new.
Source: Washington Post