16 Aug 2015

Tianjin blast death toll 104 as president wants workplace safety changes. Duh!

Industrial apocalypse
Tianjin, China: The death toll from two massive explosions that tore through an industrial area in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin has risen to 104, state media said on Saturday, as China's president urged improvements in workplace safety.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said authorities should learn the lessons paid for with blood in Wednesday's warehouse blasts, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The number of people killed had previously been put at 85.
China evacuated residents who had taken refuge in a school near the site of two huge explosions, state media said, after a change in wind direction on Saturday prompted fears that toxic chemical particles could be blown inland.
It was not clear from media reports how many people were evacuated.

For the families of missing fire fighters it was a day of more heartache as they sought answers about their loved ones and officials tried to keep media cameras away.
In one piece of encouraging news, a 50-year-old man was rescued 50 metres away from the blast zone, Xinhua said. The man was suffering from a burnt respiratory tract but was in a stable condition after surviving three days in a shipping container, the official China Central Television (CCTV) said.

Chinese police confirmed for the first time the presence of deadly sodium cyanide at the site of the blast as a series of new, small explosions were heard and small fires broke out.

It did not say how much had been found or how great a risk it posed but residents expressed concern about the air and water.
"I do feel a bit afraid," said construction worker Li Shulan, 49, when asked about the air quality. "It definitely doesn't feel good. As you can see our boss is making us wear masks."

There were about seven small explosions in the area on Saturday, according to a post on the micro-blog of CCTV. A fresh blaze ignited cars in a parking lot next to the blast site. The cause was not immediately clear.

About 6,300 people have been displaced by the blasts with around 721 injured and 33 in serious condition, Xinhua said. Shockwaves from the explosions were felt by residents in apartment blocks kilometres away in the city of 15 million people. At least 21 of the dead were fire fighters.

About a dozen family members of missing fire fighters tried to storm a press conference, angry at a lack of information.
"We have gone to each and every hospital by ourselves and not found them," said Wang Baoxia, whose elder brother is missing.
Media have said such firefighters in China, often only on two-year contracts, lack training as new recruits.
"There is no government official willing to meet us. Not even one," Wang said. Relatives said around 25 missing fire fighters were young contract workers not part of official city fire brigades.
After Wednesday's blasts, fire crews were criticised for using water to douse flames which may have contributed to the blasts given the volatile nature of the chemicals involved.
Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of fast growth. A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago. 

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