Beijing: At least 119 people were killed and 54 others injured today when a huge fire destroyed a major poultry processing plant in northeast China, in what could be the country`s deadliest inferno in over a decade.
The fire broke out at around 6:06 AM (local time) at a slaughterhouse owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City, Jilin Province, according to firefighters.
Officials put the death toll at 119 that is expected to rise further.
Over 300 workers were in the pre-fabricated structure when the accident happened, survivors were quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.
The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained, but state broadcaster CCTV said eyewitnesses had heard a blast and suspected a leak of liquid ammonia.
CCTV also said on its Weibo account that the fire could have started due to an electric spark in the plant.
Six hours after the fire broke out around 6:00 am it had largely been brought under control, CCTV said.
The survivors said that a sudden bang was heard and then they witnessed dark smoke.
About 100 workers managed to escape from the plant whose gate was locked when the fire occurred, survivors said.
"I started working at 6 AM along with another 100 workers in my workshop. There were two workshops in the plant," said Wang Fengya, a 44-year-old female worker who was burnt in escaping.
"Soon after, someone shouted `run away!` and we quickly ran to the exit, which is about 40 metres away from my seat. Suddenly, the lights inside went out and the plant got quite dark," said Wang, adding that her legs felt like jelly as she fled.
Wang said she fell down and hurt herself in escaping. "When I finally ran out and looked back at the plant, I saw high flames," she added.
Wang and another three workers were sent to the Changchun Central Hospital with light injuries.