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Tianjin Blasts Death Toll Rises to 145, 10 Officials Probed
   2015-08-27 19:52:03    Xinhua      Web Editor: Li Cong

Rescuers work at the core area of explosion site in Tianjin, north China, Aug. 25, 2015. [Photo:Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin]
Tianjin blasts death toll rises to 145

The death toll from the Tianjin warehouse explosions two weeks ago rose to 145 on Thursday with 28 others still missing.

All the dead have been identified, including 88 firefighters, nine policemen and 48 others. The missing people include 16 firefighters, two policemen and 10 others.

China's top procuratorate on Thursday announced its investigation into 10 officials and port executives for alleged neglect of duty in the blasts.

The officials under investigation include Wu Dai, head of Tianjin Municipal Transportation Commission, and Zheng Qingyue, president of Tianjin Port (Group) Co., Ltd.

Another official, Wang Jinwen, who is a senior official with the Ministry of Transport, is also being investigated for suspected abuse of power.

An investigation by the Supreme People's Procuratorate found Wang violated the law to help Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd., owner of the warehouse that was the site of the blasts and allegedly handled dangerous chemicals, pass safety evaluations and obtain approvals to handle hazardous materials.

The 11 officials have been placed under compulsive measures, which include summons by force, bail, residential surveillance, detention and arrest.

According to a separate statement by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on Thursday, the police have detained 12 suspects involved in the massive blasts that devastated the port area.

The 12 people include Yu Xuewei, chairman of Tianjin International Ruihai Logistics Co. Ltd., vice-chairman Dong Shexuan, and Zeng Fanqiang, an employee with a safety evaluation firm suspected of illegally helping Ruihai acquire safety evaluation papers, according to the MPS.

The MPS said the detainees are suspected of illegally storing dangerous materials.

The MPS statement added that suspects Zhi Feng, general manager of Ruihai, and deputy manager Shang Qingsen are under residential surveillance.

The SPP statement said local government departments, including transportation management authorities, production safety regulatory agencies, and land and resources authorities, are accountable for the explosions.

Customs personnel of the Tianjin Customs District were found to have been slack and irresponsible in supervising the illegal dangerous chemical business run by Ruihai, the statement said. The personnel involved are also suspected of illegally issuing customs clearing permits to the company and allowing it to carry out illegal business activities, the statement said.

Tianjin Port is also responsible for the accident because it failed to respond to potential safety risks and illegal business by Ruihai, the statement added.

Two blasts ripped through a warehouse in Tianjin Port where large amounts of toxic chemicals were stored, including around 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, at around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 12.

No excessive levels of pollutants have been found in the air outside the exclusion zone, but high levels of cyanide were detected from water samples from inside the exclusion zone, with the worst about 27 times the level officially regarded as safe.

"Safe" levels of cyanide were found in four out of six seawater monitoring locations.

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