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China jails 49 over giant explosions
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 9, 2016

Rescuers seek boy trapped in north China well
Beijing (AFP) Nov 9, 2016 - Hundreds of rescuers in northern China strove Wednesday to reach a boy who had been trapped in an abandoned well for over 60 hours.

The six-year-old was helping his father harvest cabbage at Baoding city in the northern province of Hebei Sunday when he toppled down the 40-metre-deep (131-foot) well, the Hebei News Network said.

As of 6pm Wednesday no signs of life had been found, it added.

A team of more than 500 rescuers and one hundred excavators arrived on scene after the father made a call for help on Chinese social media, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The 30-centimetre well shaft was too small for adults to enter, so rescuers widened it while pumping in oxygen, it added.

Photos showed teams of hard-hatted men hauling woven baskets filled with dirt away from the well's mouth, while digging machines scrabbled frantically at the dry brown earth around it, carving a wide, shallow crater.

Multiple ambulances stood by on-site.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the surrounding soil, whose soft and sandy consistency makes it prone to collapse.

Chinese courts Wednesday jailed almost 50 people over last year's giant explosions in the port of Tianjin that killed 165 people, state media reported.

The blasts at a chemical warehouse owned by Rui Hai International Logistics sent a huge fireball soaring into the sky and mangled structures kilometres away.

Social media users recorded the scene of what rapidly became the country's highest-profile industrial accident in years.

A swathe of the northern port was devastated and fears of toxic pollution were rife, with cyanide levels in the disaster zone far above national limits.

Those convicted on Wednesday were 24 company managers and staff members and 25 government officials, the official news agency Xinhua said.

The charges ranged from illegal storage of materials to abuse of power.

The head of Rui Hai, Yu Xuewei, received a two year suspended death sentence -- normally commuted to life in prison -- and was fined 700,000 yuan ($103,252) for his role in the disaster.

In the aftermath of the explosions Xinhua described Yu as a former executive at state-owned chemical company Sinochem, and said another of Rui Hai's owners was the son of the former port police chief.

Those connections helped the company get permits despite numerous safety violations, it reported.

The court ruling confirmed the findings of a government report in February, that government bodies in charge of the port, up to ministerial level, routinely ignored or violated laws and regulations on chemical storage.

Corruption is rife in China and causes widespread anger with the ruling Communist party.

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