A fire at a poultry farm in Dehui city in northeastern China's Jilin province has killed at least 119 people on Monday morning, state media reports have said.
At least 54 people had been sent to nearby hospitals for medical treatment. The fire appeared to have been sparked by three early-morning explosions in the farm’s electrical system, said official news agency Xinhua, which earlier reported 61 dead.
The blaze, which started about 6am, charred the entire facility and trapped workers inside sheds, reports said. Calls to fire and rescue services rang unanswered and hospital administrators said they had no information about injuries among the dozens of people reportedly sent for treatment.
Rescue workers found the bodies in the charred buildings, and rescue efforts were continuing. CCTV footage showed dark smoke billowing up from the cement structures.
Xinhua quoted survivors as saying that the plant’s “complicated” interior, narrow exits and a locked front gate made escape difficult.
CCTV quoted unidentified workers as saying the fire broke out during a change of shifts and may have originated in a locker room at a time when about 350 workers were at the site.
As rescue efforts continued on Monday, police evacuated an area of one square kilometre around the farm, China News Service said.
The poultry plant’s owner, Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry, is a major producer of processed chicken and employs about 1,200 people.