Times Online --

---Now this is an official's apology that is definitely sincere. Perhaps he should be a role model for our people?

Times Online December 07, 2005

Chinese toxic spill official found hanged

A senior official managing the aftermath of a spill of 100 tonnes of toxic pollutants into the rivers of northern China and Russia has been found dead, according to reports.

Wang Wei, the Vice Mayor of Jilin, where an explosion in a chemical factory released tonnes of benzene, a carcinogen, into the water supply of the city of Harbin on November 13, was found hanged at his home, an official said.

"I’d heard that he’d died at home yesterday. We’ve heard that he hanged himself," a senior official in Jilin told Reuters...

News of Wang's apparent suicide came hours after China's head of workplace safety warned that those found responsible for the explosion, which killed five people and forced the closure of the water supply to 4 million people in Harbin, would be "sternly" punished.

"Anyone who were found guilty of dereliction of duty will be harshly dealt with," said Li Yizhong, director of the National Bureau of Production Safety Supervision Administration.

"People who are found to have provided false information to investigators will also be punished severely," he said. "Any move trying to cover up the cause of the accident and any passive attitude toward the probe are deemed deception and a defiance of law."

In the immediate aftermath of the blast, which occurred in a benzene-processing tower at the Jilin Shuangben Chemical Plant, Wang was quoted as saying that the explosion had caused no environmental damage.

The death of Wang follows the sacking of at least three managers in the China National Petroleum Corporation, which runs the chemical plant. Last week, the head of China's environmental agency also resigned over the accident, which has attracted unsually critical coverage in China's state-owned media.

The slick, which has slowed in the freezing waters of the Songhua River as it makes its way northeast to the Russian border, is currently approaching the Chinese city of Jiamusi, 200 miles (320km) to the east.

Jiamusi, a city of two million people, has closed its waterworks to prevent the contamination of its water supply, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Local officials in Heilongjiang Province are also considering building a temporary dam on the border with Russia to stop the slick, which is now 150km long, from reaching the Russian city of Khabarovsk, Xinhua said, quoting Chinese water officials.


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