China: Chinese police made the formal arrest of 12 people following the deadly explosions in the port city of Tianjin, said Thursday the state media, while 11 public officials were under investigation for negligence. The leaders of the company Rui Hai International, owner of the warehouse of chemicals which are parties explosions, were arrested shortly after the disaster and are now formally under arrest, told Xinhua news agency .
Last week, when they were already in the hands of the police, they had appeared on state television “confessing” they used their “political connections” to get permits and bypass security rules. For its part, the Chinese Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced on its website that investigations had been initiated against 11 public officials for “abuse of office” and “negligence”.
Among them, officials from several local government departments (transport, customs, labor safety) but also the president of the state group that manages the port of Tianjin, said the prosecutor. The balance of the August 12 explosions, which destroyed part of the port area of Tianjin (Northeast China) and devastated the surrounding residential areas, continues to increase.
It now stands at 139 dead, according to official figures released Wednesday night, while 34 people remain missing and more than 500 are still hospitalized. The explosions and fires that followed caused widespread concerns about the release of highly toxic pollutants in the air and water of the city, inhabited by some 15 million people and located two hours drive south east of Beijing.
The chemical warehouse from which parts giant explosions contained some 700 tons of highly toxic sodium cyanide from thousands of tons of other hazardous chemicals, according to authorities. But the site was less than a kilometer from residential areas and major roads, which is contrary to the standards.
A case reminiscent of the poor record of China in terms of industrial safety in a country where regulations are routinely ignored and controlled lax on endemic corruption background. After the disaster of Tianjin, Beijing has however sought to emphasize the shortcomings of local officials, trying to divert popular anger and broader failures of denunciations nationwide.
For his part, the director of the National Administration for safety at work, the subject of a corruption investigation, was finally sacked, said Wednesday the official media.