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China jails 14 over factory blast that killed 146
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Feb 3, 2016

Chinese courts have jailed 14 government officials and company executives for up to seven-and-a-half years over a 2014 factory explosion that killed 146 workers, the official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

The blast was caused by the ignition of metal dust in a wheel hub polishing workshop in the eastern city of Kunshan, near commercial hub Shanghai.

An official investigation later showed the factory flouted safety rules.

China has a dismal industrial safety record. Some factory owners evade regulations to save money and pay off corrupt officials to look the other way.

An industrial explosion caused by improperly stored hazardous materials in the northern port city of Tianjin in August last year killed nearly 200.

And a landslide caused by improperly dumped construction waste in the southern city of Shenzhen in December is confirmed to have killed at least 73 people, state media said last month.

In connection with the Kunshan blast, Xinhua said five separate courts handed out jail terms of three to seven-and-a-half years on the owner and top managers of Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co., as well as officials in charge of fire prevention, work safety and environmental protection.

It did not name them or give individual sentences.

The accident also injured 114 people and caused damage estimated at more than $50 million, Xinhua said.

State media have previously said that 35 officials were punished under internal Communist Party rules and an additional 18 suspects faced criminal prosecution over the accident.

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