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Tianjin warehouse explosion 2015

Punishment looms for Tianjin explosion executives

State recommends sacking of executive director but listed companies none the wiser

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 5:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 5:46pm

The central government has begun naming executives it deems responsible for the Tianjin warehouse explosions in August, but the listed companies involved say they are waiting for official word on penalties.

Tianjin Port Development and its parent company, Tianjin Development, said in filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday that an official report on the incident had “suggested” Zhang Lili, an executive director of Tianjin Port group, be sacked.

The companies said they had gleaned the news from the State Administration of Work Safety’s website on Friday.

On Friday, state news agency Xinhua said the State Council had signed off on the official assessment of the Tianjin port area blast which killed 165 people, injured more than 800, levelled hundreds of buildings and destroyed thousands of vehicles and containers.

The report blamed mismanagement, particularly at a chemical warehouse operated by Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics, and lax oversight by regulators. It said 123 government workers would be punished and 49 individuals remained under investigation.

While the report did not specify charges, the government has previously said Ruihai handled dangerous chemicals without a licence, and company executives have told state media they used connections to obtain fire safety and environmental approvals.

The government put the damage bill at 6.87 billion yuan (HK$8.13 billion). The International Union of Marine Insurers has said insured losses could reach US$6 billion.

Shares in Tianjin Port dropped 3.81 per cent to HK$1.01 on Thursday, while Tianjin Development fell 7.22 per cent to HK$3.47.