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Ammonia leak kills 15 in Shanghai

02 September 2013

At least 15 people died on August 29 following a liquid ammonia leak at a refrigeration unit owned by a seafood company in the Chinese city of Shanghai, according to local reports. A further 26 were injured, with six in critical condition, the Shanghai government said in a statement following the leak.

The accident occurred shortly before midday in the northern district of Baoshan due to a leaking pipe in the refrigeration unit. More than 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene, using water to disperse the liquid ammonia and its fumes, local sources said.

The food company involved, Shanghai Weng's Cold Storage Industrial Co., is engaged in the import and export, storage, processing and sales of seafood products. It has the capacity to freeze 150 tonnes of products a day, according to its website.

Shanghai is considered to be more tightly regulated than other cities in China, but this marks the second accident at a food company in the city in less than a month. On August 20, five workers at a local food company died after inhaling poisonous fumes while cleaning a vat used for making pickled vegetables, according to the government.

China has a poor record on industrial safety, with more than 27,700 people killed or missing in workplace accidents in the first half of this year, according to state media.

A total of 226,048 workplace accidents occurred in the first half, down 3.8% from the same period last year, the China Daily newspaper said.

A fire caused by an ammonia leak at a poultry processing plant in the northeastern province of Jilin in June killed more than a hundred people.

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