China accuses 11 of negligence over Tianjin warehouse blasts

August 27, 2015, 10:09 AM UTC
Burnt cars are seen near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin
Burnt cars are seen near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin, August 13, 2015. Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least 44 people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1O62I
Photograph by Damir Sagolj — Reuters

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By Helen Regan @hcregan

Chinese state prosecutors have accused 11 officials and port executives of “dereliction of duty” and “abuse of power” over the huge explosions two weeks ago in the world’s 10th largest port, Tianjin, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The officials under investigation are said to include the head of Tianjin’s municipal transportation commission, We Dai, and the president of Tianjin Port Holdings, Zheng Qingyue.

The blasts took place at a warehouse owned by Ruihai International Logistics. Xinhua has also reported that 12 people from the firm — including its chairman, vice chairman and three general managers — have been detained on suspicion of illegally storing dangerous chemicals. The death toll from the blasts rose to 145 Thursday, according to Chinese media, while another 474 remain in a critical condition.

Chinese authorities say the warehouse was used to store about 40 different hazardous chemicals, including 700 tons of highly toxic sodium cyanide, before the deadly explosions on Aug. 12, which devastated a large part of the port area.

Fitch has estimated that the blast, one of the worst industrial accidents since China embraced reform over 30 years ago, will generate around $1.5 billion in insurance claims for damages to cars and to local housing.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with the latest estimates for the number of those killed and wounded by the blasts.