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Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 12:51 UK

US worker dies in chocolate vat

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Relatives of the victim give their reaction to the accident

A man has died after falling into a vat of hot chocolate at a factory in the US state of New Jersey.

Vincent Smith Jr, 29, was emptying pieces of solid chocolate into the melting vat when he slipped from a platform into the 2.5m (8ft) deep unit.

A spokesman for the local prosecutor's office said Mr Smith appeared to have died instantly from a blow to his head by a paddle mixing the chocolate.

His colleagues at the factory tried to shut down the mixer, but were too late.

Mr Smith was a temporary worker at the Cocoa Services Inc plant in the city of Camden.

'Need answers'

Jason Laughlin, from the local county prosecutor's office, said: "There are paddles, called agitators, that are moving inside this vat. He was hit by one of them before someone could hit the shut-off valve."

Investigators said the chocolate had reached 49C (120F). It was being melted in the factory before being shipped out to other companies to make into chocolate bars and other sweets.

Mr Smith had been in the vat for about ten minutes before rescue crews arrived.

Thombe Smith, told journalists: "We just really need to know what happened to my cousin. We just need some answers."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the US Department of Labor, is investigating the accident.



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