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September 20, 2017

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China detains 9 managers after 74 die in power plant collapse

BEIJING--Nine executives are being held responsible by the Chinese government for a power plant accident where 74 workers were killed when an under-construction cooling tower collapsed, state media reported Monday.

Those under detention included the board chairman of engineering firm Hebei Yineng, a major builder of power plants that has a record of workplace deaths, state media reported. The chief manager, deputy manager and director of engineering for the project were also detained.

Laborers were building a circular cooling tower in the southern province of Jiangxi when the interior scaffolding collapsed last Wednesday, releasing a cascade of steel, concrete and wooden planks. It was one of China's deadliest workplace accidents in recent years and prompted calls from government officials for stepped-up inspections and a renewed emphasis on worker safety.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said local governments should learn from the accident and hold accountable anyone responsible.

No formal charges were announced against the detained executives, who also included safety managers and supervisors from a Shanghai consulting firm. But China typically responds to high-profile workplace deaths by arresting and prosecuting company executives and local officials, with their confessions often broadcast on state television, as part of a longstanding effort to convince the public that the government is fighting widespread corruption and poor enforcement of safety standards.

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