Beijing has made multiple arrests over alleged involvement in the Tianjin warehouse disaster. Twin explosions at the chemicals warehouse in the northern port city two weeks ago killed 139 people.
The chairman and senior managers of Rui Hai International Logistics, who owned the warehouse in Tianjin, were among the 11 officials taken into police custody on Thursday, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The detained persons also included the owners of Rui Hai, who came on national television last week and "confessed" to using government connections to obtain safety permits.
State lawyers said they were looking into officials from government departments, including transportation management, customs, and work safety as well as the president of a state-owned port company in Tianjin. The officials were found to have been irresponsible, negligent and lax in the supervision of the site, they added.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's state organ for legal supervision, said in a statement that it was probing the accused for "abuse of power" and "dereliction of duty." In China, formal arrest follows a period of police detention, after which the case is transferred to prosecutors. A trial and conviction are considered highly probable.
State media said a former deputy mayor of Tianjin, who was also the head of China's work safety watchdog, was sacked after a corruption investigation. However, no explicit link between the official and the chemical factory explosion was made.
More than 500 people were injured and 139 died in two explosions in Tianjin's chemical warehouse on August 12. The accident left a trail of mangled buildings and cars, with dangerous chemicals, including sodium cyanide, polluting the area around the factory. Thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores within five kilometers of the site, triggering worries of widespread air and water contamination.
The Chinese government has blamed local individuals and their corrupt practices for the disaster. Anger in China is growing over lax safety standards and other recent explosions, and President Xi Jinping has promised to bring errant officials to book.
mg/msh (Reuters, AFP)