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World News

Accident at COFCO crushing plant in Argentina kills three, operations halted

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Activity at an Argentine grains crushing plant of Chinese commodities giant COFCO International was halted on Tuesday after an accident that killed three workers, the company said.

“We regret to inform that at our plant in the town of Saforcada, three employees of the Tork company, hired to carry out work in silos, lost their lives while doing their task,” COFCO International said in a statement.

A company spokesperson confirmed that operations at the plant, located in Buenos Aires province, were halted while a police investigation into the incident was being conducted, but it was considered to be an accident.

Grains powerhouse Argentina exports corn and wheat and is the world’s top supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs, poultry and cattle from Europe to Southeast Asia.

“Our company is absolutely shocked by what happened, and even though the accident has caused irreparable damage, [we] will do everything possible to accompany our relatives and friends going through this painful situation,” the firm said.

A local oilseed workers federation said it was saddened by the deaths of the three people here who were trapped under the grain in the facility's silos. It criticized "precarious conditions" facing contractor workers.

“The responsibility lies in the first place with the employers who prioritize their profitability to the detriment of the health and integrity of the people who work in their plants,” it said in a statement.

It also called on the state government to do more to ensure safe working conditions in the sector.

“If it is avoidable, it is not an accident,” the union said.

Reporting by Maximilian Heath; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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