Head of fertilizer firm probed for deadly blast in Vietnam metro

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Police search for bodies of workers after a blast at a fertilizer factory in Ho Chi Minh City in October, 2014. Photo: Cong Nguyen Police search for bodies of workers after a blast at a fertilizer factory in Ho Chi Minh City in October, 2014. Photo: Cong Nguyen

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Ho Chi Minh City Police are investigating the owner of a fertilizer factory for criminal negligence after his factory exploded, last month, killing three workers.
Huynh Van Hai, 44, the director of the Dang Huynh Company which owned the factory in District 12, is being investigated for workplace safety and hygiene violations and endangering a densely populated residential area.
If charged and convicted, he could face up to 12 years in jail.
Hai will remain free while police investigate his possible role in the explosion, news website VnExpress reported.
Nguyen Thi Cam Tu, 19, one workers at the 430-square-meter factory, died in the hospital soon after the blast ripped through the neighborhood at 4PM on October 17.
Two other workers, her mother Huynh Thi Tam, 36, and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thanh, 30, were torn to shreds.
The three women migrated to the city from the Mekong Delta’s province of Dong Thap.
The blast, which the police described as an “especially serious incident,” collapsed seven neighboring houses and partially ruined five others.
More than 100 other home owners reported damage to their roofs, cracked walls and shattered windows.
A neighbor and her 4-year-old daughter had to be treated at HCMC's Cho Ray Hospital.
Investigators say the company secured a license to trade fertilizer, but illegally produced fertilizers on site.
Police say roughly 500 kilograms of fertilizer ingredients combusted on October 17, triggering the massive explosion.
The materials included 320 kilograms of potassium nitrate, 25 kilograms of potassium chlorate, and 150 kilograms of carbonyl diamide.
The workers were charged with mixing the chemicals in a certain ratio by hand, pouring the mixture into bottles and then capping them, the police found.
Then women also used a small gas stove to boil water which they used to heat plastic sheeting that they then pulled over the bottle caps.
In a statement issued last month, city police said that the workers may have handled the volatile chemicals “carelessly.”
Since the chemicals are considered highly explosive, the investigators are also considering that the factory was used for the illegal production of firecrackers.
HCMC government has ordered District 12 authorities to help the affected families resettle.
The district will also force the company to compensate the victims of the blast and punish related officials for their poor management.

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