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A fire at a large poultry slaughterhouse in China has killed at 119 people, according to state media. The death toll may rise as some of the factory workers are still unaccounted for.
The blaze broke out early Monday morning local time in the Mishazi township of the Jilin province. Footage from Chinese state television station CCTV showed smoke billowing from the concrete facility, which is owned by major poultry producer Jilin Baoyauanfeng Poultry Co.
It is believed that there were about 350 workers inside the plant when the fire broke out. Some workers quoted by CCTV said they heard a blast, which was followed by smoke filling the building.
The Xinhua news agency reported that about 100 people were able to escape the facility despite the front gates being locked. The news agency added that "the complicated interior structure […] and the narrow exits have added difficulties to the rescue work." Some workers are still thought to be trapped.
China has a history of deadly fires that have occurred in buildings with lax safety standards. One of the country's worst fire disasters occurred in 2000, when 309 construction workers at a discotheque were killed in a blaze in the city of Luoyang.
It is not clear if poor safety standards played a role in Monday's fire in Jilin province. The fire has been mostly brought under control, but firefighters are still on the scene attempting to completely extinguish the blaze.
mz/ng (Reuters, AFP, AP,dpa)