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Officials punished for blast cover-up in central China

(Xinhua)

08:38, August 30, 2012

ZHENGZHOU, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Officials in central China's Henan Province have been suspended or dismissed for lying about the death toll in a fireworks factory blast that killed 28, authorities said Wednesday.

Hu Jingxu, governor of Huaiyang County, and his two deputies, Lei Tingjun and Zhang Haiyang, have been suspended from their posts, according to sources with the publicity department of Zhoukou, which administers Huaiyang.

The head of the county's work safety watchdog, Fan Minhua, and two top government officials with Lutai Township, the site of the blast, were dismissed, the sources said.

An explosion ripped through the Dongtun Fireworks Factory in Huaiyang County on June 18. The county government said the blast had killed seven people and injured 14 others.

However, unidentified residents suggested the death toll may have been greater than what was reported, and the Huaiyang government was suspected of lying about and covering-up the accident.

After receiving the tip-off, the provincial and municipal governments set up an investigation team on Aug. 12 to look into the accident.

The team confirmed that a total of 28 people had been killed and 20 others injured in the blast.

Of the injured, nine have been discharged from hospitals while the others are in non-life-threatening conditions, according to the publicity department.

Thirteen people believed to be directly responsible for the blast have been taken into police custody, the department said.

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