Authorities in China have increased the death toll on Wednesday to 120 for the deadly fire that hit a poultry plant in northeast China this week. Officials also said that 17 people were still not accounted for.
Chinese authorities said that at the time of the deadly fire on Monday 395 people had been working. The fire is China’s worst industrial accident in the past five years.
Reports from state media said that nearly 90% of those killed in the fire had been women that were recruited from villages nearby to work only part time in the plant.
Workers at the plant said that only one of the exits at the plant was unlocked when the fire broke out, which was a clear violation of the safety regulations and laws in China.
The managers and owner of the plant have been detained by law enforcement authorities and China’s Cabinet has formed a special commission to investigate the fire. First reports said it appears as though the fire might have been sparked by an explosion from leaking ammonia, which is kept under pressure as part of the plant’s cooling system.
Monday’s disaster underscored the continuing problems with worker safety in China, where nearly 70,000 annually are killed on the job. The worker problems are due to corruption, poor training and the lack of enforcement by regulators.
The fire came nearly 20 years after one that was similar in a factory that built toys in Shenzhen were 87 workers died because the exits in the factory had been locked shut, allegedly to stop theft from occurring.