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At least 119 dead in China poultry slaughterhouse fire

Firefighters in Northeast China have contained a massive fire that tore through a poultry plant. At least 119 people have been killed and more are still trapped. NBC's Ian Williams reports.

At least 119 people were killed when a fire tore through a locked poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China on Monday, state media reported.

Officials believe the blaze may have started in the electrical system of the plant, in the Mishazi Township of Dehui City, about 75 miles northeast of the provincial capital Changchun.

Chinese state television said the high number of employees in the facility at the time was because the fire broke out during a shift change.

AFP - Getty Images

Relatives hug each other after a deadly fire at a poultry plant in Dehui, northeast China's Jilin province, Monday.

Over 300 workers were in the plant when the fire began, survivors told state news agency Xinhua, adding they heard a sudden bang and then witnessed dark smoke.

AFP - Getty Images

A victim lies on a hospital bed after being rescued from a fire at Baoyuan poultry plant at Dehui, northeast China's Jilin province on Monday.

"About 100 workers have managed to escape from the plant whose gate was locked when the fire occurred," Xinhua said, according to Reuters.

"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," Xinhua added.

The regional government said 54 people were injured and had been rushed to hospital.

China has a poor record on fire safety. Fire exits are often locked or blocked and regulations can be easily skirted by bribing corrupt officials.

Reuters contributed to this report.

AP

Firefighters prepare bags that appear to contain the remains of victims from a poultry processing plant that was engulfed by a fire in northeast China's Jilin province's Mishazi township on Monday, June 3, 2013. The massive fire broke out here early Monday, trapping workers inside a cluttered slaughterhouse and killing over a hundred people, reports and officials said.

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