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Firefighter trucks are seen next to a damaged building after an explosion at a factory in Zhoushan, Jiangsu province August 2, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer(reuters_tickers)
By Clare Baldwin
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese officials have blamed the chairman of a car parts factory in eastern China and local regulators for safety breaches that led to the most deadly industrial accident in a year, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
The blast at the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co Ltd factory in the city of Kunshan on Saturday killed at least 75 people and injured 185.
A preliminary investigation suggested the blast was triggered by a flame lit in a dust-filled room, local government officials said. Dust can be highly explosive when it is suspended in air in the right concentrations, and is true even of materials such as aluminium and iron that don't typically burn.
Kunshan Zhongrong, which polishes aluminium wheels for automakers including General Motors Co <GM.N), failed to properly store dangerous goods, did not have appropriate ventilation or dust removal systems, and had a substandard electrical system, according to the government investigation cited by Xinhua.
The factory also ignored prior warnings about dust, did not have appropriate fire safety equipment and did not provide safety training for workers, according to the report.
A senior official in charge of China's work safety administration called the situation a "very serious dereliction of duty," Xinhua reported.
Neither Kunshan officials nor executives from Kunshan Zhongrong could be reached for comment.
General Motors said on Sunday that it had asked its main Chinese supplier to find an alternative source of components after the explosion.
The Detroit automaker issued a statement saying it bought components from a company called “Dicastal" - which Zhongrong works with. GM went onto say it had no direct dealings with Zhongrong, which it described as a "Tier-2" supplier.
A GM spokeswoman in Shanghai said she had no information on whether GM conducts safety inspections of production facilities run by lower-tier suppliers with which they do not do business with directly.
Xinhua said previously that two company representatives had been taken into police custody and that President Xi Jinping had demanded a full inquiry into what happened and punishment for those responsible.
It said on Monday that the State Council has approved a special task force to investigate the accident and will soon carry out nation-wide inspections on plants and their dust control measures. It also said that authorities will draw up comprehensive regulations and standards on dust control at factories.
(Additional reporting by Fiona Li in BEIJING, Fayen Wong in SHANGHAI and the Shanghai Newsroom.; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)