Ten senior executives of the company that owned the warehouse site that exploded in the Chinese city of Tianjin have been detained, state media reported Tuesday, as authorities promised to investigate the cause of the disaster.
Li Liang, the president of Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co, which stores and transports chemicals, was among those being held, as was the company’s vice president, Cao Haijun, and Song Qi, the chief financial officer.
They have been under detention since August 13. Earlier reports had said two unnamed executives of the firm were in detention.
Massive explosions rocked the northeastern coastal city late Wednesday, killing at least 114 people, officials said, and devastating a large industrial zone and nearby residences.
At least 57 people are still missing, according to authorities.
Thousands of officials, firefighters, policemen and local residents mourned the victims at the blast site Tuesday, bowing their heads and observing a moment of silence to pay their respects.
Questions over license
Official news agency Xinhua said the company was licensed to handle dangerous chemicals at the time of the blasts but only obtained that license in June. A previous license had lapsed in October 2014.
The warehouse was a temporary storage facility that housed materials after they arrived at the port and before they were transported elsewhere, city officials have said.
Several hundred tons of sodium cyanide, a highly toxic chemical that can kills humans rapidly, have been found at two locations and are being cleaned up.
China’s State Council has formed an investigative committee to “give a responsible answer” on the cause of the disaster and promised “serious punishment,” Xinhua reported Tuesday.
“Many are questioning about the number of people killed in the blasts, the emergency assistance provided, and the handling of the aftermath. Some are even suspicious, with rumors circling,” said a commentary in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece.
“In the face of an accident that has caused heavy losses of life and property, the central government’s attitude is clear and resolute: a thorough investigation and severe punishment are beyond any doubt,” it concluded.