At least 119 workers died and 54 more were injured in a blaze at a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China on Monday. The exact number of casualties has not yet been finalized, but the incident, near Dehui in Jilin province, is being touted as China’s deadliest industrial accident since a 2008 mine cave-in killed 281 people. Officials believe the fire started after a leaking liquid-ammonia tank exploded. (The substance is commonly used as a refrigerant for cold storage areas.) Workers trying to escape faced locked exits, according to state news wire Xinhua. The plant is owned by Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry, which employs 1,200 people and puts out 67,000 tons of chicken products every year. The tragedy comes as Shuanghui International Holdings, China’s largest producer of pork, agreed to a $4.7 billion deal to take over Virginia-based meat manufacturer Smithfield Foods Inc. The deal, which must be approved by regulators, would be the largest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company.
PHOTOS: Fire in Chinese Poultry Plant Kills at Least 119