Date
23 October 2017
Burnt cars are seen near the site of Wednesday massive explosion in Tianjin's Binhai new district. Photo: Reuters
Burnt cars are seen near the site of Wednesday massive explosion in Tianjin's Binhai new district. Photo: Reuters

Blast death toll rises as toxic haze shrouds Tianjin

At least 50 people are confirmed dead after Wednesday’s massive explosion in a warehouse complex in the northeastern Chinese port city of Tianjin.

The dead include 17 firemen, Ming Pao Daily reports.

Four Hong Kong people and one Taiwanese are among 700 brought to hospital, 70 with serious burns.

Two of the Hongkongers have been discharged and the remaining two are out of danger.

Rescue workers are searching for victims two days after the blast as hundreds of injured continue to flood hospitals.

Meanwhile, a potentially toxic haze has enveloped part of the city, with environmental officials saying poisonous chemicals, including toluene and chloroform, may have been released into the air in dangerous amounts, according to reports.

On Thursday, environmental chief Wen Wurui told a press conference that the local government has set up 17 monitoring points for air quality and five for water quality.

Wen said the air quality in the vicinity of the explosion has not been affected while waste water in three nearby estuaries is being tested.

Pollutants from the explosion are being diffused toward the east or northeast and will not affect Beijing, weather experts said.

Beijing News is reporting that the fire department detected sodium cyanide in the sewage water at the blast site but the extent of the leak is not known.

Earlier, Greenpeace warned that sodium cyanide and other toxic chemicals may have escaped into the air, posing serious danger to residents.

It said calcium carbide and toluene diisocyanate found at the scene explode when mixed with water.

Friday’s weather forecast calls for some rain patches.

The blast is thought to have originated in Rui Hai International Logistics which is licensed to store hazardous material.

Owners of nearby factories said at least 700 metric tons of toxic sodium cyanide are stored in Rui Hai warehouses.

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TL/AC/RA

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