Shaanxi bus crash: China sacks 'smiling official'

Police officers and rescuers inspect the wreckage of a bus and tanker in Yanan, 26 Aug 2012 A bus collided with a methane-laden tanker on 26 August

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A safety official in China who sparked a public outcry after images showed him grinning at the scene of a fatal bus crash has been sacked, officials say.

Yang Dacai has been stripped of all his official duties for "serious wrongdoing", Shaanxi province officials said in a statement.

Pictures of Mr Yang smiling while visiting the site where 36 people died on 26 August were posted online.

Outrage grew when netizens found images of him wearing luxury watches.

An investigation into Mr Yang's "inappropriate behaviour of 'grinning' as well as wearing luxurious watches" found him guilty of "serious wrongdoing", the Communist Party's discipline commission in Shaanxi said.

Officials are still further investigating "trails of [Mr Yang's] other wrongdoing", according to the online statement.

Mr Yang, head of Shaanxi's Provincial Bureau of Work Safety, fielded questions on his Twitter-like weibo microblog after netizens posted images of him wearing expensive watches on various occasions.

Responding to criticism that he grinned at the scene of the crash he said: "My heart was heavy when I reached the scene... Junior officials appeared nervous when they were updating me on the situation.

"I was trying to get them to relax a little, so maybe, in an unguarded moment, I got a little too relaxed myself."

He also explained that he "used legal income" to buy a number of watches, saying that the most expensive one he owned was worth 35,000 yuan ($5,550, £3,420).

Earlier this month, a university student filed an information disclosure request with the provincial finance bureau, asking them to make Mr Yang's annual income public, reports the China News Service. The request was declined.

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