CHANGCHUN, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Negligence caused a fatal fire in northeast China's Jilin Province that killed 120 and injured 77 others on Monday, the country's top work safety official said Thursday.
A fire that occurred at a poultry processing plant in the city of Dehui was caused by negligence by company management and supervisory authorities, according to Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety.
He made the remarks at an investigative work team meeting held in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province.
"The company must not shirk its responsibility to maintain safety, nor can the government shirk its management and supervisory responsibilities," said Yang, who also led the work team.
An initial investigation by the team showed that work safety management at the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company was a "total mess," according to Yang.
He said the company failed to implement an accountability system for workplace safety and thoroughly eradicate work safety hazards.
The company also failed to conduct safety drills and offer safety awareness education to its employees, according to the investigation.
The investigation indicated that evacuation efforts were hampered due to the blocking of emergency exits.
"The company's management of employees was chaotic. No training, no drills. Many people died near the gate," Yang said.
"It's too early to say for certain whether the emergency exits were locked or not. But one thing is for sure: they could not be opened," he said.
"Hundreds of workers were gathered in two large workshops where there were not sufficient safety measures," he said, adding that the workshops had serious design problems.
Yang said the accident also demonstrated that local governments and relevant authorities failed to fulfill their supervisory responsibilities.
"Governments at all levels must pay high attention to work safety," he warned.
Bayanqolu, governor of Jilin, was deputy head of the investigatory work team. He said there are many loopholes in the government's work safety supervision efforts.
"The company emphasized production and efficiency but neglected safety and workers' lives, causing irreversible losses," the governor said.
"As governor, I feel deeply guilty," he said.
Yang asked the work team to look into the exact cause of the accident and hold those responsible accountable.
The company's board chairman, Jia Yushan, as well as its general manager, Zhang Yushen, have been detained by police.
The firm's assets have been frozen and all of its licenses have been revoked, according to Yang.
Yang has also called for safety checks in multiple industries across the country, including the notoriously dangerous mining, transportation and chemical manufacturing sectors.