China police detain 12 in
connection with landslide disaster
Police in China have detained 12 people in connection with a
deadly landslide last week, including at least one executive from a company
that ran a dump for construction waste that swept through an industrial park,
state media said on Monday.
The government has blamed breaches of construction safety rules
for the disaster in the southern city of Shenzhen on Dec. 20, when the dump
overflowed and engulfed 33 buildings, and has begun an investigation.
At least seven people have been confirmed dead while more than
70 are missing.
In a brief report, the Xinhua news agency said police had taken
"coercive measures" against 12 people, including "responsible
people" from Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development, which ran the
dump, using an expression which generally refers to detention.
Calls to the company seeking comment went unanswered.
A Reuters reporter last week saw police raiding two of the
company's offices in Shenzhen.
Police would coordinate with the central government's
investigation and "handle in accordance with the law the criminal
suspects", Xinhua said, without elaborating.
Separately, a former senior Shenzhen official who was in charge
of an agency responsible for regulating the waste heap, has committed
suicide, police said.
The former director of the Guangming New District Urban
Management Bureau, a man surnamed Xu, had killed himself, district police
said in a microblog post, adding police had received a report that a person
had fallen from a building late on Sunday.
Police made no link between Xu's death and the disaster. The
government had warned earlier that those held responsible would be "seriously
punished in accordance with the law".
The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper identified Xu as Xu
It is unclear when Xu stepped down as director of the Guangming
New District Urban Management Bureau but the district government reported on
its web site that another person has been appointed head of the agency in
The disaster is the latest deadly accident to raise questions
about China's industrial safety standards and lack of oversight over years of
rapid economic growth.
Last week, an executive with a government-appointed monitoring
agency said it had urged Yixianglong to stop work four days before the
disaster, citing safety concerns.