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Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer


BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Friday sentenced the former head of the country's safety watchdog, Yang Dongliang, to 15 years in prison for graft, the state broadcaster said.

Yang, who spent much of his career in the northern port city of Tianjin, was placed under investigation in August 2015 on suspicion of violating party discipline and law.

The investigation was announced after blasts in a Tianjin port warehouse storing hazardous chemicals killed 173 people.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)