Chinese chemical firm ‘misled’ investigators over deadly blast

BEIJING (AFP) – The Chinese chemical firm responsible for an explosion that killed 24 people and injured 21 others in northern China last year hid information and misled investigators, said local authorities in a report published on Sunday.

A gas leak caused the explosion last November at a PVC production plant in Zhangjiakou, a northern Chinese city in Hebei province that will host part of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“After the accident occurred, Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry Company did not report (the incident) to relevant government departments in accordance with regulations, concealed the accident, and misled investigators,” said the Emergency Management Department of Northern Hebei Province.

In its report, local authorities also pointed to the company’s lack of safety measures and “chaotic” management for contributing to the blast.

Those in charge of key departments were “not at the company for long periods of time” and violations of labour regulations by employees were common, including playing on their mobile phones and sleeping during work hours, said the report.

Police have investigated and taken “criminal compulsory measures” against 12 employees and 13 local officials have been “punished”, the report said, without offering details.