BEINJING: China has prosecuted nearly 3,400 officials in 19 months for

environmental abuses that killed about

3,600 people and cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, state media reported today.

Officials responsible for water, mining, forestry, construction and environmental protection were among those prosecuted, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said in a statement reported by the official Xinhua news agency. It, however, did not say how many of the 3,391 officials charged between April 2008 and November 2009 were convicted.

Together the abuses led to the death of 3,591 people and left 354 seriously injured, Xinhua said, adding direct economic losses totalled 4.9 billion yuan ($710 million). Low-level officials had been offered bribes, the report said, but gave no further details of any of the cases.

In addition, prosecutors investigated more than 7,000 cases of officials’ failing to carry out their duties and violating citizens’ rights last year, Xinhua said, adding those cases led to 6,466 officials being convicted. Among that total, 3,175 cases were deemed “serious” or “major”, Xinhua said.

An emphasis on economic growth

has lead to widespread disregard for environmental protection in China.