Work safety chief under investigation after Tianjin blasts

Chief of China's work safety regulator is under investigation with heads of the blasted warehouse company detained by police, six days after the explosions rocked Tianjin.

Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, is "currently undergoing investigation" for suspected violations of Party discipline and the law, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

The 61-year-old served as vice mayor of Tianjin Municipality from 2001 to May 2012, before he was appointed director of the work safety regulator. Yang is a member of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Xinhua reported.

At least 114 people, including 39 firefighters, were confirmed dead in the massive blasts at the warehouse for hazardous chemicals that belongs to Ruihai International Logistics in Binhai New District.

The logistics company's chairman Yu Xuewei is among the ten heads who have been detained by the police, Caijing reported. Four of them including general manager Zhi Feng are in hospital under police watch.

Cyanide contamination was found at levels up to 28 times those considered safe at eight of 29 testing sites within the blast zone, said Bao Jingling, chief engineer of the Tianjin Environmental Bureau. No unsafe levels were found at 14 inspection sites outside the zone, he said.

Bao Jingling said about 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide stored at the blasts site remain mostly unaffected. The chemical becomes combustible on contact with water. He warned local residents to stay away from suspected white powder and not to pour water on it.

The first rainfall hit the site Tuesday morning but Bao said it posed no imminent risks to people’s health. Toxic chemicals could be released into air when chemical residues on the ground are touched by rainwater, resulting in indirect pollution in air. As long as there are no further blasts, there will be no direct pollution to air, he added.

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