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Official commits suicide as police make arrests over Shenzhen landslide

Emergency services search rubble for survivors after a landslide buried 22 buildings on December 20, 2015 in Shenzhen, China. Reports say at least 27 people are missing and 7 people have been rescued so far after a landslide hit China's southern province on Sunday.
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Emergency services search rubble for survivors after a landslide buried 22 buildings on December 20, 2015 in Shenzhen, China. Reports say at least 27 people are missing and 7 people have been rescued so far after a landslide hit China's southern province on Sunday.

A government official who likely approved a construction waste dump that set off last week's deadly landslide in Shenzhen, China, has killed himself, Chinese media outlets reported.

State media news agency Xinhua said that the man - surnamed Xu - was the former head of the Guangming New District's urban management bureau. Xinhua reported that the man fell to his death from a building on Sunday night.

According to a Reuters report, it was unclear when Xu stepped down as director of the Guangming New District Urban Management Bureau but the district government reported on its web site that another person has been appointed head of the agency in July.

The South China Morning Post reported that Xu's department was responsible for inspecting waste dumps and that the dump that triggered the landslide was approved during his tenure. Xinhua's report, based on a police blog, did not specifically link the man's apparent suicide and the landslide.

It was not clear whether Xu was under investigation over the landslide, which destroyed 33 buildings in an industrial complex when it overflowed on December 20. At least seven people were confirmed killed in the landslide and more than 70 are still missing.

According to Reuters, Xinhua reported on Monday that police had detained 12 people in connection with the landslide.

In a brief report, Xinhua said police had taken "coercive measures" against 12 people, including "responsible people" from Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development, which ran the dump, using an expression which generally refers to detention.

Last week, an executive with a government-appointed monitoring agency said it had urged dump operator Yixianglong to stop work four days before the disaster, citing safety concerns.

Reuters' calls to the company seeking comment went unanswered. A Reuters reporter last week saw police raiding two of the company's offices in Shenzhen.

Yang Huanning, chief of the State Administration of Work Safety, has pledged to investigate the landslide and severely punish those responsible.

The disaster is the latest deadly accident to raise questions about China's industrial safety standards and lack of oversight over years of rapid economic growth.

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