Six more detained over China blast that killed 78

The explosion was one of the worst industrial accidents in China recently. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Six more detained over China blast that killed 78

  • China shut down the plant after the explosion
  • The official statement said they will also take measures against the companies running the plant

BEIJING: Police have detained six more suspects linked to a chemical plant blast in eastern China last month which killed 78 and left hundreds injured, local authorities said.
The explosion in Jiangsu province’s Yancheng city last month was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country in recent years and led to the closure of the plant.
Six employees from the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical company, whose plant was involved in the blast, have “major responsibilities” in relation to the incident, the Yancheng government said Saturday in a brief statement on its official Twitter-like Weibo account.
It said that “criminal coercive measures” have been taken against them — a vague term which indicates detention, arrest or being put under temporary house arrest until police complete investigations, according to an explanation on the Chinese parliament’s website.
Three others had also earlier been detained in connection with the blast.
The statement added that measures will also be taken against Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical, as well as its controlling shareholder, the Jiangsu Nijiaxiang Group.
The March 21 explosion razed an industrial park and blew out the windows of surrounding homes.
The company, with 195 employees, was established in 2007 and mainly produces raw chemical materials including anisole, a highly flammable compound.
It has a history of violating environmental regulations, according to online records from Yancheng city’s environment and ecology bureau.
In 2015 and 2017, the firm was fined for breaking rules on solid and water waste management.
Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.
In November, a gas leak at a plant in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou — which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics — killed 24 people and injured 21 others.
In 2015, China saw one of its worst industrial accidents when giant chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people.


US border chief quits amid outcry over child detainees

Updated 25 June 2019
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US border chief quits amid outcry over child detainees

  • John Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas
  • Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone

WASHINGTON: The acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection agency announced his resignation on Tuesday amid a public outcry over alarming detention conditions of migrant children in Texas.
John Sanders, appointed to the post just two months ago, said in a letter obtained by several US media outlets that he planned to step down as acting CBP chief on July 5.
Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, a sign of the increasing strain on resources due to soaring numbers of arrests at the US-Mexico border.
The conditions at the center in Clint were described by a team of lawyers, doctors and others who visited the facility about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of El Paso.
Nearly 250 children were transferred out of Clint on Monday but a CBP official said Tuesday that some 100 were being sent back there.
“The three-year old before me had matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants, and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue,” wrote Clara Long, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who accompanied the team.
“His only caretaker for the last three weeks in a United States Border Patrol chain-link cage and then a cell... his 11-year old brother,” Long said.
“Children at Clint told us they don’t have regular access to showers or clean clothes, with some saying they hadn’t been allowed to bathe over periods of weeks and don’t have regular access to soap,” she said.
Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Long said “the situation is dire.”
“And it’s not just Clint,” she said.
Sanders has led CBP since April, when President Donald Trump tapped CBP chief Kevin McAleenan to replace Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
In a message to staff, Sanders did not give a specific reason for quitting and officials told The Washington Post and The New York Times it was not clear if his resignation was directly related to the handling of underage migrants at the border.
Trump told reporters Tuesday he did not ask Sanders to step down but “knew there were going to be changes there.”
US law requires unaccompanied minors to be returned to their parents or transferred to Health and Human Services facilities within 72 hours.
But many of the children held by the Border Patrol in Clint had been there for three or four weeks, according to the team which visited the facility on June 17.
“The Border Patrol claims that high numbers of border arrivals are causing these delays as they wait for space to open up in the somewhat more child-friendly detention centers and shelters,” said HRW’s Long.
Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone. CBP deputy commissioner Robert Perez said more than 100,000 were children and families.
“Everybody understands it is not the Border Patrol’s job to take care of children,” said Warren Binford, a Willamette University law professor who visited the Clint facility.
“They are as upset as we are that these children are being put into their care because they don’t have the ability to care for them,” Binford said on MSNBC.
“These children need to be with their families.”
Perez, the CBP deputy commissioner, made the same complaint recently at a panel discussion in Washington.
“We are a border security agency now being called upon to deal with things we’re not designed for,” Perez said.
Trump, asked about conditions at the detention centers, said he was “very concerned” and urged Democrats to approve $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian funding for the southwest border.
He said “bad people” were using children to take advantage of lax US immigration laws. “It’s a form of slavery what they’re doing to young children,” he said.
Trump also said Mexico “for the first time in 50 years is helping us” prevent border-crossing.
“So I just want to thank Mexico,” said the US leader, who had threatened steep tariffs on Mexican goods unless the government did more to slow migration.
After a week of tense negotiations, Mexico agreed to reinforce its southern border with 6,000 National Guardsmen and expand its policy of taking back migrants while the US processes their asylum claims. Mexico has also deployed 15,000 troops to the US border.
“They’ve done a great job,” said Trump. “Hopefully they can keep it up.”