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Tianjin Blast Probe Suggests Action against 123 People

A State Council investigatory team has identified 123 people, including five officials at ministerial level, responsible for the Tianjin warehouse explosions in August that killed at least 165 people.

Previously, public security departments and procuratorates have put 49 people under coercive measures in line with the law.

After five months of investigation, the team has concluded that the disaster, "an extraordinarily serious production safety accident," was caused by ignition of hazardous materials, improperly or illegally stored at the site.

The fire started in a container through auto-ignition of nitro-cotton, due to vaporization of the wetting agent during hot weather. The fire spread, igniting other chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, according to the report issued by the team on Friday.

Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd (Ruihai Logistics), owner of the warehouse, had "illegally built a freight yard of hazardous materials, conducted illegal operations, illegally stored hazardous material and had been running inept safety management," the report said.

The probe suggests 74 officials be subject to Communist Party of China disciplinary procedures, 48 be admonished by their local discipline inspection commissions. One other culpable person died of natural causes during the course of the investigation.

The report also recommends that Ruihai Logistics' licenses be revoked and company executives be banned from any other executive posts in the sector.

On August 12, 2015, two explosions ripped through a Ruihai Logistics' warehouse in Tianjin Port, killing 165 people, including 99 firefighters. Another eight people are still unaccounted for.

The explosions damaged 304 buildings, 12,428 cars and 7,533 containers, with verified direct economic losses of 6.87 billion yuan (about $1.1 billion).

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2016)

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