China's police detain 12 people in connection with Shenzhen landslide

Excavators are seen working at the site of the landslide in an industrial area in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Dec 28, 2015.
Excavators are seen working at the site of the landslide in an industrial area in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Dec 28, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have taken "coercive measures" against 12 people in connection with last week's deadly landslide, state media said on Monday (Dec 28), using an expression that generally refers to detention.

In a brief report, the Xinhua news agency said police had taken "coercive measures" against 12 people, including"responsible people" from Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development, which ran the dump, using an expression which generally refers to detention.

Calls to the company seeking comment went unanswered. A Reuters reporter last week saw police raiding two of the company's offices in Shenzhen.

Police would coordinate with the central government's investigation and "handle in accordance with the law the criminal suspects", Xinhua said, without elaborating.

Separately, a former senior Shenzhen official who was in charge of an agency responsible for regulating the waste heap, has committed suicide, the police said.

The former director of the Guangming New District Urban Management Bureau, a man surnamed Xu, had killed himself, district police said in a microblog post, adding police had received a report that a person had fallen from a building late on Sunday.

Police made no link between Mr Xu's death and the disaster. The government had warned earlier that those held responsible would be "seriously punished in accordance with the law".

The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper identified Mr Xu as Xu Yuanan. It is unclear when Mr Xu stepped down as director of the Guangming New District Urban Management Bureau but the district government reported on its web site that another person has been appointed head of the agency in July.

The government on Saturday blamed breaches of construction safety rules for the disaster in the southern city of Shenzhen on Dec 20, when the dump overflowed and engulfed 33 buildings in an industrial park.

Two people have been confirmed dead while more than 70 are missing.

The disaster is the latest deadly accident to raise questions about China's industrial safety standards and lack of oversight over years of rapid economic growth.

Last week, an executive with a government-appointed monitoring agency said it had urged Shenzhen Yixianglong, the firm managing the dump, to stop work four days before the disaster, citing safety concerns.