First probe of China factory blast finds firm responsible: Xinhua

HONG KONG/BEIJING Mon Aug 4, 2014 9:54am EDT

Volunteers carry a man (C) after he fainted at a caring centre for relatives of victims of a factory explosion, in Kunshan, Jiangsu province August 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Volunteers carry a man (C) after he fainted at a caring centre for relatives of victims of a factory explosion, in Kunshan, Jiangsu province August 3, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - The preliminary findings of a probe into an explosion at an auto parts factory that killed 75 people on Saturday show that the company bears the main responsibility for the incident, state media reported on Monday.

Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co Ltd'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 Co. 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 Monday.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin in HONG KONG and Paul Carsten in BEIJING; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jane Baird)

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