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Sinopec workers imprisoned along with officials for 2013 Qingdao blast

HONG KONG — Eight China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) employees and six local officials were sentenced up to five years in prison for their roles in an oil pipeline blast in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao that killed 63 people in 2013.

Sinopec workers imprisoned along with officials for 2013 Qingdao blast

Policemen and firefighters check on a damaged site following a pipeline explosion in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. AP file photo

HONG KONG — Eight China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) employees and six local officials were sentenced up to five years in prison for their roles in an oil pipeline blast in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao that killed 63 people in 2013.

Two of the employees at the company were given probation by the Shandong court, according to Xinhua News Agency. Six officials of the local government were sentenced for between three and five years, Xinhua reported.

The sentences come as China punishes company and government officials to show more accountability for industrial disasters after decades of runaway growth. A blast in August at the port of Tianjin that killed 173 people and levelled the city’s industrial zone was the latest incident that raised questions about the country’s safety regulations.

An explosion at an auto-parts factory near Shanghai in August this year also killed at least 75 and a fire at a poultry plant in the north-eastern province of Jilin in June that year left 120 people dead.

The eight Sinopec officials, including Xing Yuqing, a former deputy director in charge of pipeline regulation in Shandong, “violated safety regulations” in operations and “indirectly” caused the explosion in Qingdao, Xinhua reported, citing the court verdict.

Six local government officials, including Li Benzhe, a director of work safety bureau in Qingdao, were charged with “dereliction of duty” for failing to fulfil their safety inspection responsibilities.

Former Sinopec Chairman Fu Chengyu was given a demerit on his official record last year for the accident, and another 47 Sinopec officials were also disciplined, Xinhua reported. BLOOMBERG

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