Former Shenzhen Official Kills Himself After Fatal Landslide

A former Shenzhen official committed suicide a week after at least seven people died and scores were left missing in a landslide that occurred in an area once under his jurisdiction.

The former urban management chief for the southeastern city’s Guangming New District jumped to his death from a building on Dec. 27, the Nanshan district police bureau said Monday on its official Weibo account. The post, which identified the official only by the surname Xu, said an investigation determined suicide as the cause of death and made no link to the landslide. A person who answered the phone for the Nanshan police declined to comment further on the case.

While authorities are still looking for a cause of the landslide, the government has declared the disaster a "work safety accident" and an initial investigation showed it may have begun with a man-made pile of earth and construction debris. More than 70 people were still missing as of Dec. 26, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Police have detained 12 people including at least one executive from Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development Co. over suspected links to the landslide, Shenzhen police said Monday. Caixin magazine reported on Dec. 20 that the company was responsible for managing the site where the landslide occurred.

The country’s top prosecuting body is investigating whether official misconduct played a role in the incident. Lax safety practices have fueled public anger in China, which has seen a spate of deadly incidents including an August explosion at a warehouse in the city of Tianjin that killed more than 170.

It was unclear when or why the official who fell from the building left the post. The current urban management chief, Zhao Yonglin, took the position in July. Lei Jingzhi, a propaganda official for the office, said the agency was still looking into the matter and refused to provide further information.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai

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