, BEIJING, China – Aug 27 – Chinese police have arrested 12 people over giant explosions that killed at least 145 people and devastated a swathe of a Chinese port city, state media said Thursday as prosecutors probe 11 officials for neglecting their duties.
The official Xinhua news agency said the dozen formally held include the chairman and senior managers of the firm whose chemical storage facility exploded in the northern city of Tianjin two weeks ago, in the country’s highest-profile industrial accident in years.
Separately, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said on its website that prosecutors in the city were probing 11 officials for “abuse of power” and “dereliction of duty” over the blasts, which also injured hundreds of people.
In China, formal arrest normally comes after some time in police detention and sees the case handed to prosecutors, with trial and conviction almost guaranteed.
The 12 arrested include owners of Rui Hai International Logistics who were shown on state television last week, when they were already being held by police, “confessing” to using government connections to obtain safety permits.
The huge explosions left a trail of mangled buildings and burnt out cars in their wake.
There are currently 495 troops from the People’s Liberation Army chemical defence unit and 66 chemical defence experts assisting in disaster relief operations, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said on Thursday.
The toll rose to 145 people killed with 28 still missing, according to the Tianjin government’s official Sina Weibo account, a Chinese version of Twitter. The post also said 474 are in hospital, including seven in critical condition.