China Detains Senior Officials, Port Executives After Deadly Explosions in Tianjin

China’s top prosecutor is holding 10 officials and port executives as well as a senior Transport Ministry official under criminal detention for alleged neglect of duty and abuse of power in the Tianjin warehouse explosions that killed at least 139 people, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Those being held include Wu Dai, head of the Tianjin Municipal Transportation Commission, and Zheng Qingyue, president of Tianjin Port (Group) Co., Ltd., Xinhua said, citing the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. Wang Jinwen, a senior official with the Ministry of Transport, is being investigated for suspected abuse of power, according to the report.

Two blasts wreaked havoc on the night of Aug. 12 at the port, where about 700 tons of sodium cyanide were stored. The explosions sparked concerns about the storage of dangerous chemicals and planning regulations. Tianjin is the world’s 10th-busiest port and has become a gateway to northern China for shipments of metal ore, coal, autos and crude oil.

An investigation by the SPP found Wang broke the law to help Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd., owner of the warehouse that was the site of the blasts, pass safety evaluations and obtain approvals to handle hazardous materials, the news agency reported.

In a separate statement the Ministry of Public Security said police had detained 12 suspects suspected of illegally storing dangerous materials. They include Yu Xuewei, chairman of TianjinInternational 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, Xinhua cited the MPS as saying.

–With assistance from Ting Shi in Hong Kong.