- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

BEIJING (AP) - The ceiling at a chemical plant in southwest China collapsed Monday, killing 11 workers and leaving one person trapped under rubble, state media said.

The accident occurred at the Jianfang chemical factory in the southwestern city of Chongqing, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The bodies of the workers were recovered by early evening but one person was still buried under rubble, it said. No other details were given and it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collapse or if the 12th person was still alive.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Chongqing Administration for Work Safety confirmed that an accident had occurred at the facility but would not give any other details.

China’s vast work force, an estimated 800 million people, has fueled decades of export-driven growth, turning the country into the factory for much of the world.

But safety standards continue to lag behind those in developed countries. Many factories and mines have little or no safety equipment, while worker training is also weak.

The government has in recent years focused on accident prevention, and it reported last month that work-related deaths fell below 100,000 in 2008 for the first time in more than a decade.

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