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Fatal fire rings alarm for factory safety


08:07, June 06, 2013

DEHUI, Jilin, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Two days after a fire raged through a poultry plant in northeast China's Jilin Province, leaving 120 people dead and 77 injured, the relatives of the deceased are participating in DNA testing in order to claim the bodies of their loved ones.

"We hope to see her one last time," said Li Yanguo. His 20-year-old niece, Li Feng, went missing after the fire broke out early Monday morning at a poultry processing plant in the city of Dehui.


The State Council, or China's cabinet, has dispatched a special work team to investigate the fire.

Although the investigation results have yet to come in, a question has been lingering among many survivors and the victims' relatives: why were the doors of the workshop locked at the time of the fire, preventing many from escaping?

Lying on a bed at the Changchun Central Hospital in the provincial capital of Changchun, Wang Fengya said she feels sick when she recalls the accident.

Wang said she and her colleagues could not open a door that was used as an emergency exit when the fire broke out.

"People ahead shouted and tried to push the door open, but it wouldn't budge," she recalled. "Somebody opened the door with a key and we rushed out." Wang was slightly burned and is receiving treatment at the hospital.

Of the 77 workers who were injured, many are suffering from skin and respiratory burns.

Some survivors said their workshop was windowless and that the main gate was usually locked, leaving only a few side doors for passage.

"Scores of people died just a few steps away from the locked main gate," one survivor said.

Another survivor, Guan Zhiguo, also blamed the locked doors for the severe casualties.

Guan said he saw a few female workers screaming behind a locked door after he ran out of the building.

He said no one questioned why the doors were locked before the accident. "Now I am remorseful, but I don't know who I should blame," he said.

It is not the first time that locked doors have been reported in fatal fires. Emergency passages that were sealed with iron bars were found in an investigation that was conducted following a shopping mall blaze that killed 309 people in central China's Henan Province in 2000.

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