A Chinese court has given the head of a chemical trading company a suspended death sentence over an explosion at a warehouse in Tianjin last year that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers.

The Tianjin court said Wednesday that Ruihai International Logistics Chairman Yu Xuewei paid bribes to obtain permission to store more than 49,000 tons of sodium cyanide and other highly toxic chemicals at the company's warehouse in the city's port between 2013 and 2015, when the explosion occurred. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison after two years.

Tianjin courts gave lesser sentences to 48 other people, including 25 local government officials and workers accused of dereliction of duty, abuse of power and bribe taking.