SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has punished nearly 700 more regional officials for inadequately protecting the environment in the latest round of rolling inspections, the state news agency Xinhua reported.


The central government sent seven teams to areas including Beijing, Shanghai and southern Guangdong province in November, following a first round of inspections into official efforts to protect the environment elsewhere in China.


The latest inspection teams looked into 1,893 cases and imposed fines of 66 million yuan ($9.56 million) in 1,479 cases, Xinhua said in a report late on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of Environmental Protection.


It gave no detail of the lapses for which the fines were imposed.


China's environment ministry was given authority earlier this year to investigate regions and enterprises without prior warning, and was empowered to summon any local government or company official to account for their actions.

The previous round of investigations into eight Chinese regions led to more than 3,000 officials being disciplined and 198 million yuan in fines being handed out for environmental violations.

($1 = 6.9044 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Paul Tait)