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S. Africa Fire Kills 11 Who May Have Been Locked In

November 19, 2000|Associated Press

LENASIA, South Africa — A fire and explosion in a floor polish factory killed 11 workers who apparently had been locked inside the building by the owner, police said Saturday.

The fire in the small brick building late Friday probably was started when a highly flammable chemical dripped onto a gas burner, said police spokesman Superintendent Richard Luvhengo. The chemical was illegally stored inside the factory. The fire spread to gas containers, which then exploded, he said.

None of the employees--10 women and one man--working the overnight shift survived. The positioning of their bodies indicated that they tried to run from the blaze but were unable to get out, Luvhengo said. A delivery door blown out by the explosion still had a padlock attached.

Police were questioning the factory owner, who could face charges of murder, culpable homicide or negligence, Luvhengo said.

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