Liquid ammonia leak kills at least 15 in China

Liquid ammonia leak kills at least 15 in China

CHINA - A liquid ammonia leak from a food company's refrigeration unit in suburban Shanghai killed at least 15 people on Saturday, local authorities said.

The leak had also made 25 others ill and seriously injured five as of press time on Saturday. All those affected were sent to the hospital, the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety said.

Emergency workers said the accident was caused by a pipeline leak at a workshop of Shanghai Wengpai Cold Storage Industrial Co, a private enterprise engaged in aquatic products' import and export, storage, processing and sale.

Set up in 2006, Wengpai has the capacity to freeze 150 metric tons of products a day and employs about 200 workers, its website said.

Authorities have set up an investigation team and promised to publicly disclose the results.

The accident took place at about 10:50 am on Saturday in the city's northern district of Baoshan. More than 200 emergency workers arrived at the scene in 25 fire trucks. They evacuated the area, diluted the chemicals with water and searched for survivors.

Hospital, public security and environmental protection bureaus' workers also rushed to the site as police cordoned off the area.

Ammonia's stench was still strong in the early afternoon. Employees were allowed to return to the factory at about 3 pm, after environmental monitors determined the area to be safe.

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