A large fire at a poultry farm and processing plant in northeastern China has killed at least 119 people, state media reports.
The fire on Monday in Jilin province’s Mishazi township appeared to have been sparked by three early morning explosions in the farm’s electrical system, the official Xinhua news agency said. The blaze charred the entire facility and trapped workers inside sheds.
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Firefighters had extinguished the blaze by early afternoon but were continuing rescue work, reports said.
Photos from the scene posted on Chinese news websites showed thick smoke billowing from the cement and corrugated iron sheds.
The semi-official China News Service quoted company officials as saying liquid ammonia had leaked and caused the explosions.
The rescue efforts were hampered by narrow exits and the “complicated interior structure” of the pre-fabricated building, Xinhua quoted firefighters as saying.
More than 300 workers were at the plant when the fire broke out, but the number trapped inside was unclear, it quoted survivors as saying.
About 100 workers had escaped from the plant despite the gate being locked, survivors said.
The provincial government in Jilin said 54 people had been injured and taken to hospital.
Local residents were evacuated within a one-kilometre radius of the plant because of the risk of ammonia leakage, reports said.
The farm’s owner, Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company, is a major producer of processed chicken and employs about 1,200 people. Built in 2009, the plant reported revenue of $37.5m in 2010.