Three detained over China chemical blast that killed 78

The company was established in 2007 and produces raw chemicals, including a highly flammable compound. (AFP/File)
Updated 03 April 2019
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Three detained over China chemical blast that killed 78

  • The incident is one of the country’s worst industrial accidents in recent years
  • Local officials announced on twitter that three employees were “significantly responsible”

BEIJING: Police have detained three suspects linked to a chemical plant blast in China, which killed 78 people and left hundreds injured, local officials said Wednesday.
The explosion last month in Yancheng city, in eastern Jiangsu province, was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country in recent years.
Three employees from Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical, whose facility was involved in the blast, had “significant responsibility” for the accident, according to a statement on the Yancheng government’s official Twitter-like Weibo account.
Officials said the suspects have been subjected to “criminal coercive measures” — a vague term which indicates detention, arrest or being put under house arrest temporarily until police complete their investigations, according to an explanation on the Chinese parliament’s website.
Yancheng police declined to offer details on the case when contacted by AFP.
The blast 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.


Malaysia to push Southeast Asian nations for long-term solution to smog

Updated 19 September 2019

Malaysia to push Southeast Asian nations for long-term solution to smog

  • Malaysia and neighboring Singapore have been choked by smoky air blown in from forest fires started to clear land for plantations
  • The situation forced schools to shut and many people to wear masks so as to avoid inhaling smog particles

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will push its Southeast Asian neighbors to strengthen cooperation in finding a long-term solution for smog wafted across the region from forest fires in Indonesia, its environment minister said on Thursday.
In the past few weeks, Malaysia and neighboring Singapore have been choked by smoky air blown in from forest fires started to clear land for plantations, forcing schools to shut and many people to wear masks so as to avoid inhaling smog particles.
“I will have a conference call with the ASEAN secretary-general to raise our views and also express our hope for a more effective mechanism at the ASEAN level for a long-term solution,” Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin told a news conference, but did not elaborate on other participants.
All three countries belong to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which set up a regional haze action plan in 1997, but Malaysia thinks the grouping has not done enough to evolve a long-term solution.
Among its efforts to tackle the hazard, Malaysia could pass a new law to punish any of its companies responsible for starting fires, but only international cooperation could yield a lasting solution, Yeo added.
“Cloud seeding is only temporary. A law here would only deal with Malaysian companies. What we need is international cooperation for a long-term solution.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said Malaysia was considering a new law to compel its companies to tackle fires on land they control abroad.
Yeo said Malaysia will keep up cloud seeding efforts to bring temporary relief in badly-hit areas. This involves spraying chemicals, such as sodium chloride and magnesium oxide, from aircraft in order to spur rainfall.
Malaysia will also consider deploying drones to help in cloud seeding, Mahathir told a separate news conference.
Malaysia’s Islamic Development Department issued the text of a special plea for divine intervention to disperse the smog, to be recited after weekly prayers on Friday by mosque congregations nationwide.