Officials held over deadly China poultry fire

Smoke rises from Baoyuan poultry plant that caught fire at Dehui, north-east China's Jilin province on Monday The fire started early in the morning and spread rapidly as people struggled to escape

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Eleven local officials have been detained over a fire at a poultry plant in China's Jilin province that left 121 people dead, state media say.

The fire broke out at a slaughterhouse in Dehui early on 3 June.

Local media reported that people struggled to escape because the exits were blocked.

It was China's deadliest fire since 2000, when 309 people died in a blaze in a dance hall in Luoyang, in Henan province.

Investigators said a short circuit ignited flammable materials at the poultry plant, causing a blaze which spread rapidly. Dozens of other people were hurt in the incident.

A Xinhua news agency report said that the 11 officials had been arrested on suspicion that "their derelictions of duty contributed to a poultry plant fire".

Those detained included the head of Dehui's Mishazi township, where the factory was located, and the former head of the local construction bureau, the agency said.

Several fire department officials were also among those detained, it said.

"Some of the suspects... falsified information to hide the facts that no serious fire safety inspections had been conducted and that proper fire safety equipment was not in place," Xinhua said, citing the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

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