Jilin slaughterhouse fire

Jilin slaughterhouse blaze site off limits as relatives mourn

Dehui authorities tighten security around the poultry processing plant in case of social unrest breaking out on the traditional burial day today

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 7:46am

Police in Dehui , Jilin , have tightened security around a poultry slaughterhouse where at least 120 workers were killed in a fire, as bereaved relatives prepare to mark a burial day without the bodies of their loved ones.

Much of the main road leading to the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co in Mishazi town had been off limits since yesterday. Authorities were wary of social unrest breaking out today - the third day after the deaths, which is considered a day to lay the dead to rest, according to traditions in much of northern China.

Quoting official sources, state-run media outlets such as Xinhua reported that authorities had identified 67 of the 120 bodies recovered as of late Tuesday, and nearly 80 people had been taken to hospital. Many people were still frantically searching for their loved ones yesterday.

Business owner Niu Fubiao , 36, went to the site for the second day yesterday, seeking information about his wife, Liu Fang . But riot police beat him up and detained him for several hours, Niu's brother-in-law Liu Biao said.

"We just want to talk to someone to get information about my sister to get some peace of mind, but no one is willing to talk to us," Liu said. "What did we do to deserve this? We have already lost a loved one."

The State Council yesterday vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the tragedy, after hearing from Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun , who had just returned from a visit to the site.

As authorities made slow progress in identifying victims' remains amid the public's frantic scramble for answers, the tragedy could be seen taking a heavy toll on the victims' relatives.

Some family members were so traumatised that they had to be admitted to hospital for problems such as heart attacks and hypertension, said Jiang Xiuling , who was tending to his elderly mother at Dehui People's Hospital. He said his daughter, a line worker in her early 20s, remained unaccounted for.

Jiang said he was angry at the authorities for not approaching families about counselling or compensation. But he added that he was currently focused on caring for his mother, who suffered a heart attack after learning that her granddaughter was among those missing.

Line worker Zhao Yaqin , 40, was fortunate to survive Monday's blaze. She was admitted to Dehui's Fuyang Hospital with a sore throat. Zhao said she and several co-workers in the hospital had not received medication for nearly a day, and had been told to wait indefinitely for respiratory equipment to be shipped in for treatment.

"We've been told not to worry about anything, including our hospital bills. But how could we possibly not worry if they start treating us like this just two days after our ordeal," she said.