China fire kills 55

In northeast China, a fire broke out at a poultry farm and processing plant today. At least 55 people are reported killed in the fire. More are trapped inside the burning building, so death tolls are expected to climb higher, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The fire occurred this Monday, the Xinhua news agency said. It was in a factory in the Mishazi township, located in the province of Jilin, and more than 300 workers were there at the time.

“At least 55 died,” stated the Chinese news agency. It cited rescue headquarters as where they obtained their information. Reportedly, dozens more were injured by the blaze.

Rescue workers have been found among the dead bodies in the charred buildings. Rescue efforts were still ongoing.

The fire at the poultry farm broke out around six a.m. Almost five hours after it broke, firefighters were still working to extinguish the blaze, according to the Xinhua agency. They cited unnamed sources.

Three early-morning explosions in the farm’s electrical system was reported by the Xinhua news agency as the cause of the killer fire.

According to unidentified employees there, the fire broke out during a change of shifts. It may have originated in a locker room when about 350 workers were at the poultry processing farm.

“About 100 workers have managed to escape from the plant whose gate was locked when the fire occurred,” the Xinhua news agency reported, adding:

“The complicated interior structure of the prefabricated house in which the fire broke out and the narrow exits have added difficulties to the rescue work.”

Much of the facility was charred and it is still burning. The trapped workers are inside large concrete buildings, officials have reported.

Dark smoke billowing up from the cement structures was captured by the poultry processing farm’s CCTV cameras.

Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co. owns the poultry processing farm. It employs approximately 1,200 people, and is a major producer of processed chicken.

China is infamous for its poor workplace standards. There are no OHSA sorts of regulations there, though there are some basic workplace safety rules. They are more often than not ignored, however.

Fatal accidents are commonplace, and they happen fairly often at mines and factories. The Chinese are generally speaking lax about enforcing what workplace safety rules they have.

In the past, there have been some examples of the arrests of plant and company owners or officials who have flaunted their neglect to follow the few workplace safety rules that are in place in China.

Fire exits are often locked or blocked and corrupt officials often break the regulations. If they get caught, they have been know to bribe their way of out facing any legal consequences.

One example of this was when a fire erupted at a nightclub in Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong. It killed 44 people in 2008.

The nightclub was unlicensed and should not have been allowed to remain open, but a senior police officer, who accepted bribes from the venue’s owner, did not force it to close. He was jailed for his accepting bribes and for negligence of duty in not demanding that the nightclub be closed.

In late 2000, one of present day China’s worst fires occurred when fire engulfed building workers at a discotheque in a mall. This disaster happened in the central city of Luoyang, and 309 people perished in the fire.

Written by: Douglas Cobb

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