Families cling to fading hopes of finding survivors

Updated: 2013-06-05 07:24

By He Na and Han Junhong in Dehui, Jilin, and Tang Yue in Beijing (China Daily)

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Relatives search hospitals for loved ones in aftermath of blaze, report He Na and Han Junhong in Dehui, Jilin, and Tang Yue in Beijing.

Families cling to fading hopes of finding survivors

Family members wait in grief on Tuesday for news about relatives the day after a fire engulfed a slaughterhouse at a poultry factory in Dehui, Jilin province. [Photo by Wang Jing / China Daily]

On Tuesday morning, Wang Shunwen was standing outside the gates of Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co, waiting for news of his daughter.

Twenty-seven hours earlier, a fire had engulfed a slaughterhouse at the plant in Dehui, Jilin province. The death toll has reached 119 and more than 70 people have been reported injured.

His daughter, Wang Yuping, 40, was working in the slaughterhouse when the fire broke out and nothing has been heard of her since.

She had worked at the plant for two years, often putting in 12-hour days without complaint, despite not being paid for overtime, according to her father.

"My daughter often said that as long as her daughters could have a better life in the future, it didn't matter how hard she worked, it would be worth it," said Wang Shunwen. His granddaughters are aged 10 and 16.

"Her husband has visited all the hospitals that received the injured, but his search has been in vain," said Wang Shunwen, his eyes red and unfocused.

About 300 workers were inside the slaughterhouse when the blaze began. Many were unable to escape because some of the exits were locked during working hours, which is a common practice at plants such as this, according to survivors.

"Maybe no news is good news? At least that's how I try to comfort the two girls. But I don't buy it. I know I have lost my daughter forever," said Wang Shunwen tearfully.

By early Tuesday morning, 500 firefighters had conducted six thorough searches of the site, but failed to find any survivors.

Relatives of missing workers were desperate to learn the latest news about their loved ones. Around 50 of them gathered outside the plant at 6 am on Tuesday after failing to find their relatives at the hospital. Three hours later, their number had risen to more than 200, so many that they blocked the road for about an hour.

When China Daily reporters were conducting interviews early in the morning at the nearby Huikang and Fuyang hospitals, where the wounded were taken, they saw many relatives desperately searching from ward to ward.

Families cling to fading hopes of finding survivors

Jiao Jinming, 18, is recovering from his injuries at Fuyang hospital in Dehui city, Jilin province. [Photo by Wang Jing / China Daily]

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