Tianjin blasts: China accuses 11 officials of negligence over chemical site

Story highlights

  • Prosecutors single out officials from transportation, work safety, planning and customs agencies
  • State media: 11 people from the company that owned the chemical warehouse are in detention

Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese prosecutors are accusing 11 officials in the Chinese port of Tianjin of negligence over the deadly blasts that erupted from a chemical warehouse there this month.

The huge, fiery explosions killed at least 145 people, according to authorities, and caused severe damage over a wide area.
    China's top state prosecution body on Thursday identified 11 officials who it said had failed in their oversight of Ruihai International Logistics, the company that used the warehouse to store and transport dangerous chemicals.
    Among the accused are officials from the municipal transportation commission, the port operator, work safety agencies, a local planning administration and the Tianjin customs office, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
    Ruihai, the company that city officials say was storing hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals at the warehouse, is also under investigation.
    State media reported last week that senior executives of the company were in detention.
    On Thursday, China's state-run news agency Xinhua said the number of people from Ruihai detained by police stood at 11, as well as an official from a company that did safety assessments for Ruihai. The detainees are suspected by police of illegally storing dangerous materials, it said.

    Company said to have operated without license

    Citing executives, Xinhua reported last week that the company handled dangerous chemicals at the site without a license between October and June.
    The report also carried comments from the executives talking about obtaining safety certifications from officials with whom they were well connected in order to get approval to build the chemical warehouse much closer to residential buildings than Chinese regulations allow.
    CNN's attempts Thursday to reach company executives for comment were unsuccessful.
    Hundreds of tons of sodium cyanide, a highly toxic chemical that can kill humans quickly, as well other hazardous materials were being stored at the warehouse before the August 12 explosions, city officials have said.
    Authorities have been trying to deal with the toxic mess left at the blast site, including high levels of cyanide inside the exclusion zone set up around the area.
    China's State Council has formed an investigative committee to "give a responsible answer" on the cause of the disaster and promised "serious punishment" for those responsible, Xinhua reported last week.