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Asia

Executives arrested over Jiangxi disaster

Chinese authorities have arrested executives over the deadly collapse of scaffolding at a power plant. China often responds to high-profile workplace deaths by holding company executives to account.

 

Nine executives are being held responsible by the Chinese government for a power plant accident where 74 workers were killed when an under-construction cooling tower collapsed, China's state media reported Monday. Those detained include the board chairman of engineering firm Hebei Yineng, a major builder of power plants that has a record of workplace deaths, state media reported. The chief manager, deputy manager and director of engineering for the project were also detained. Formal charges were not revealed.

Laborers were building a circular cooling tower in the southern province of Jiangxi when the interior scaffolding collapsed last week, releasing a cascade of steel, concrete and wooden planks. It was one of China's deadliest workplace accidents in years and prompted calls from government officials for stepped-up inspections and a renewed emphasis on worker safety.

The deadly disaster also prompted central Chinese authorities to order safety watchdogs to launch a nationwide work safety check to plug gaps in safety standards. Chinese President Xi Jinping said local governments must learn from the accident and hold accountable anyone responsible.

Street demonstrations by Chinese citizens opposing new power plants on health, safety and ecological reasons have been on the rise in China in recent years. China often holds company executives and local officials responsible for workplace deaths. It's not uncommon for confessions to be broadcast on state television, as part of a longstanding effort to convince the public that the government is fighting widespread corruption and poor safety standards enforcement.

jar/kl (AP, dpa)