China Suspends Work at Hundreds of Factories After Deadly Blast

Cyprus Mail

August 8, 2014

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China has suspended work at more than 200 factories in an eastern province for safety checks as part of a nationwide review following an explosion at an auto parts plant that killed 75 people, government officials and state media said.

Officials have been ordered to shut all aluminium and magnesium factories—and others that generate metal dust—for safety violations, the Jiangsu provincial government said in a statement. Some 214 factories in Suzhou and 54 factories in Kunshan have been shut and will not reopen until they obtain government approval.

It was not immediately clear how long that would take.

Provinces such as Shaanxi, Tianjin and Sichuan, as well as the Guangxi special administrative region, have also stepped up safety checks. The crackdown comes after a blast at Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co Ltd on Saturday, China's worst industrial accident in a year.

State media has reported that investigators' preliminary findings show that Kunshan Zhongrong bears the main responsibility for the blast in Jiangsu, which also injured 185 people when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room.

An hour's drive from Shanghai, Kunshan Zhongrong polishes wheel hubs for automakers including General Motors Co.

"The suspended factories were found to suffer the same safety risk of dust pollution," the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, citing the government in Suzhou, which includes the satellite city Kunshan.

Xinhua did not give further details on the factories or what they produced. Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces are known for their alloy wheel makers, with Jiangsu home to four of China's top 10 exporters, according to the Automobile Association.

Many alloy wheel makers in Jiangsu have poor safety practices, the official China Securities Journal reported.

Earlier this week, President Xi Jinping demanded a full inquiry into what happened at Kunshan Zhongrong and that those responsible be punished. China's State Council Work Safety Commission ordered nationwide inspections and a safety campaign targeting factories that process aluminium, magnesium, coal, wood, paper, tobacco, cotton and plastic, Xinhua reported.

Xinhua also reported authorities would draw up comprehensive regulations for dust control at factories.

Police took at least two Kunshan Zhongrong representatives into custody earlier this week, Xinhua reported.

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