China: Ex-official falls to death after fatal landslide


Homicide ruled out in death of urban management bureau chief in Shenzhen city, where 75 missing over a week after man-made disaster

BEIJING – A former official of an urban management bureau in a southern Chinese city where a landslide of construction waste left 75 people missing more than a week ago has jumped from a building in an apparent suicide.

State news agency Xinhua reported Monday that homicide had been ruled out in the death the night before of the former chief of the urban management bureau of the district where the landslide buried 33 buildings.

It remains unknown whether the man – surnamed Xu – was being investigated after the Dec. 20 incident, after which seven people have been confirmed dead.

The Hong Kong-based South China Monrning Post identified the former official as 52-year-old Xu Yuanan, reporting that he had approved the dump pile that collapsed in Guangming New District.

Inspecting waste dumps falls under the responsibilities of the urban management bureau.

According to the Post, public records revealed that the site that collapsed had been ordered to shut down in July until safety concerns were dealt with.

Residents, however, have told media that trucks had continued dumping at the hill, even in the days before the landslide – which has been recognized as a man-made disaster.

Search operations are ongoing, but only one survivor – a migrant worker – has been rescued at the site, where 380,000 square meters (454,500 square yards) were covered in construction waste.

An investigative team of the State Council confirmed Friday that the tragedy was a work safety mishap and not caused by any natural geological disaster.

“The investigation will start immediately. Those responsible for the incident will be seriously punished in accordance with laws and regulations,” it said in the statement.

The Communist Party of China’s secretary for Shenzhen and other local officials have issued a televised public apology on behalf of the industrial city’s government and Party committee.

Xu’s death occurred the same day as another apparent suicide by the owner of a gypsum mine in eastern Shandong province where 17 people remain trapped.