Jilin slaughterhouse fire
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A paramilitary policeman wearing a mask stands guard in front of the burnt-out site of a poultry slaughterhouse in Dehui. Photo: Reuters

China says short circuit caused Jilin poultry fire that killed 121

A circuit short was the direct cause of the fire that killed 121 people at a poultry plant earlier this month in China, local police said late on Friday, though negligent safety measures have been blamed for the high death toll.

Police at the northeastern Chinese city of Jilin said the electrical short ignited inflammables and that the flames and high heat set off explosions of ammonia equipment and pipelines on June 3 at the sprawling Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry plant.

There were 395 people at work at the time of the fire, and workers said all but one of the plant’s exits were locked, a clear violation of Chinese laws and safety regulations.

China’s workplace safety agency later said negligence among factory managers and government inspectors caused “extremely chaotic” safety conditions at the plant.

It said safety exits were blocked at the plant and that managers failed to hold required safety drills or worker education. Shortly after the fire, the plant’s owner and managers were taken into police custody and its assets were frozen.

The State Administration of Work Safety said the local government was negligent in oversight and inspection.


The poultry plant fire was China’s deadliest industrial accident in five years and highlighted the continuing lack of worker safety, despite the growth and sophistication of the world’s second-largest economy.