China safety head sacked as blasts death toll rises

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

The head of main­land China’s work safety watchdog has been sacked, state media said Wed­nes­day, two weeks af­ter gi­ant ex­plo­sions in one of the coun­try’s largest ports killed 139 and in­jured hun­dreds.

Yang Dongliang, di­rec­tor and Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party chief of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Work Safety, was fired for “sus­pected se­vere vi­o­la­tion of dis­ci­pline and the law,” ac­cord­ing to a one-line re­port from the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency.

The phrase is gen­er­ally used by the rul­ing party as a eu­phemism for cor­rup­tion.

Yang was put un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion less than a week af­ter a se­ries of ex­plo­sions rocked a chem­i­cal stor­age fa­cil­ity in the north­ern port of Tian­jin on Aug. 12.

The death toll rose to 139 on Wed­nes­day, with 34 still miss­ing and more than 500 peo­ple in hos­pi­tal, lo­cal of­fi­cials an­nounced on Sina Weibo, a Chi­nese ver­sion of Twit­ter.

It was not clear whether there was any di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween Yang’s re­moval and the ex­plo­sions.

But Yang, 61, worked in the city for 18 years and rose to be one of its vice may­ors be­fore tak­ing of­fice at the work safety agency in 2012.

In­dus­trial ac­ci­dents are com­mon in China, with cor­rup­tion thought to be a key fac­tor be­hind lax en­force­ment of safety reg­u­la­tions.

State media

said one

of the own­ers of the com­pany which ran the chem­i­cal fa­cil­ity was re­lated to a for­mer high rank­ing city po­lice of­fi­cer.

The in­ci­dent sparked wide­spread out­rage over al­leged gov­ern­ment col­lu­sion with the firm, and fears of pol­lu­tants con­tam­i­nat­ing the air and wa­ter of the city, which is home to about 15 mil­lion peo­ple.The State Coun­cil, or cab­i­net, has vowed to con­duct a “rig­or­ous” in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of the ex­plo­sions.

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