Official says death toll could rise, unclear how many workers have been accounted for
A fire at a poultry processing plant in northeastern China on Monday trapped workers inside a cluttered slaughterhouse with only a single open exit, killing at least 119 people in one of the country’s worst industrial disasters in years.
Survivors described panic as workers, mostly women, struggled through smoke and flames to reach doors that turned out to be locked or blocked.
One worker, 39-year-old Guo Yan, said the emergency exit at her workstation could not be opened and she was knocked to the ground in the crush of workers searching for a way to escape.
"I could only crawl desperately forward," Guo was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. "I worked alongside an old lady and a young girl, but I don’t know if they survived or not."
Lax safety standards at some plants
The accident highlights the high human costs of China’s lax industrial safety standards, which continue to plague workplaces despite recent improvements in the country’s work safety record. It also comes amid growing international concern over factory safety across Asia following the collapse in April of a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people.
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