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Human error and “very serious dereliction of duty” were behind the explosion of gas pipelines operated by state oil giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) in Qingdao that left 55 people dead, nine missing and 145 hospitalized.

Police have detained seven Sinopec employees and two officials of Qingdao Economic and Technological Development Zone for neglecting their duties in conducting work safety checks and failing to handle the oil leakage that led to the disaster.

Sinopec has also suspended Tian Yimin and Qian Jianhua, party secretary and general manager of the Sinopec Pipeline Storage and Transportation Company, a subsidiary of Sinopec.

Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety and head of the State Council’s investigation team for the accident, said the unreasonable layout of oil pipelines and urban drainage pipes, negligence of duty in pipeline supervision, and unprofessional handling of oil leakage prior to the blasts caused the explosion.

Sinopec faced criticism following the blast for failing to warn resident of a leak in its pipelines, seven hours before the explosion occurred.

The company was also unable to answer basic questions such as where the leak was located, why the leak occurred and why local residents were not given evacuation notices after it was discovered.

Sinopec had proposed maintenance on the pipelines two years ago but had failed to carry out any works.