China blasts toll 56 now, 32 rescued

Last Updated 14 August 2015, 11:57 IST

 The toll in the deadly warehouse explosions in China's Tianjin city on Friday rose to 56, including 21 firemen, the media reported.

Firefighters, who continued to look for survivors at the twin-blast site, have saved 32 people so far, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, 721 others were hospitalised, including 25 critically injured and 33 in serious condition, the rescue headquarters said.

Two explosions, 30 seconds apart, rocked the Binhai New Area of eastern Tianjin at around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday. Earlier, a fire was reported at 10.50 p.m. in a warehouse storing hazardous and potentially toxic materials, the Global Times reported on Friday.

The initial blaze broke out at Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics warehouse, which is licensed to handle compressed gas, flammable liquid and toxic chemicals -- some of which become highly explosive when mixed with water.

The toxic chemicals stored at the warehouse that suffered the explosions cannot be identified yet, Gao Huaiyou, deputy director of Tianjin's work safety watchdog, said.

Guo cited damage to the company's office and major discrepancies between the accounts of company management and customs records as a reason they have not been able to identify the chemicals, reported.

Cargo is stored in a warehouse for no more than 40 days before being transferred elsewhere, he said, adding that the blast site had been redesigned to store hazardous chemicals.

Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd, which operates the warehouse, is licensed to store an array of dangerous chemicals, including flammable gas and liquid, as well as other hazardous chemicals, such as potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and sodium cyanide, calcium silicate and Toluene Diisocyanate.

The company was allowed to store dangerous chemicals at the blast site following work safety and environmental impact assessments, Gao said.

Chinese authorities propose to launch a nationwide examination of dangerous chemicals and explosives in the wake of the deadly explosions.

(Published 14 August 2015, 11:57 IST)

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