INDUSTRIAL SAFETY

At least 18 dead in fire at food processing plant in Shandong

Thirteen also injured and four missing after the blaze at a carrot packing plant in Shouguang

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 2014, 11:46am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 November, 2014, 9:00am

At least 18 people were killed and 13 injured at a food factory fire in eastern Shandong, CCTV news reported.

The fire began on Sunday at around 7 pm and spread to 1,500 square metres of the factory in Shouguang. It raged for two hours before firefighters extinguished it.

At the time of the fire, 140 people were working inside the factory. Only 105 people have been confirmed as safe and four people are still missing.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The factory is a carrot packaging plant run by Longyuan Food Company. It covers 15,000 square metres and has a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes, China National Radio reported.

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Shandong party chief Jiang Yikang ordered the injured be treated as quickly as possible, and urged the cause of the fire to be established immediately. Provincial governor Guo Shuqing and vice governor Zhang Chaochao also rushed to the scene to direct rescue work.

The 13 injured are undergoing treatment.

The factory manager is currently under police custody.

Longyuan Food Company was founded in 1993 and has 3.8 million yuan (HK$4.8 million) in fixed assets.

China has a history of workplace disasters. Workers are often poorly trained or ill-equipped to protect themselves from industrial accidents.

A fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in the northeast province of Jilin in June last year killed 120 people. The blaze was blamed on poor management, lack of government oversight and locked or blocked exits.

Additional reporting by Reuters