The damaged factory building owned by Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co

Company to blame for China's worst industrial accident in a year

The preliminary findings of a probe into an explosion at a Chinese auto parts factory that killed 75 people on Saturday blame the company.

Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co's safety facilities were insufficient, the working environment was bad and production methods were illegal, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the investigation's initial results.

The blast, which also injured 185 people, was triggered when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room, the local government said at a news conference on Saturday, describing the incident as a serious safety breach.

Based about an hour's drive from Shanghai, Kunshan Zhongrong polishes wheel hubs for automakers including General Motors. The blast is China's worst industrial accident in a year.

The investigation also initially found that Kunshan Zhongrong chairman Wu Jitao is the individual chiefly responsible for the blast, Xinhua said. Kunshan Zhongrong could not immediately be reached for comment in calls placed to the company outside of normal business hours.

The report also said that the local government's leadership duties and relevant department's regulatory duties had been carried out ineffectively.

"Those responsible will be severely punished," said Xinhua, without citing anyone.

A senior official in charge of China's work safety administration called the events leading up to a deadly blast at an auto parts factory a "very serious dereliction of duty", Xinhua reported earlier on today.

The news agency said the State Council has approved a special taskforce to investigate the accident and will soon carry out nation-wide inspections on plants and their dust control measures. It also said that authorities will draw up comprehensive regulations and standards on dust control at factories.

Dust can be highly explosive when it is suspended in air in the right concentrations, and even when made up of materials such as aluminium and iron that do not typically burn.

According to Xinhua, the investigation found that the company failed to properly store dangerous goods, did not have appropriate ventilation or dust removal systems and had a substandard electrical system.

The factory also ignored prior warnings about dust, did not have appropriate fire safety equipment and did not provide safety training for workers, according to the report.

General Motors said on Sunday that it had asked its main Chinese supplier to find an alternative source of components after the explosion.

The Detroit automaker issued a statement saying it bought components from a company called "Dicastal" – which Zhongrong works with. GM went onto say it had no direct dealings with Zhongrong, which it described as a "Tier-2" supplier.

A GM spokeswoman in Shanghai said she had no information on whether GM conducts safety inspections of production facilities run by lower-tier suppliers with which they do not do business with directly.

Xinhua said previously that two company representatives had been taken into police custody and that President Xi Jinping had demanded a full inquiry into what happened and punishment for those responsible.

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