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Explosions hamper cyanide clearing work at China blast site

Recurring explosions setting off fires continue to hamper attempts by nuclear and biological warfare experts to clear hundreds of tonnes of highly poisonous cyanide stored at a warehouse devastated by twin powerful blasts which killed 114 in this Chinese port city.

Press Trust Of India

Updated:August 17, 2015, 10:59 AM IST
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Explosions hamper cyanide clearing work at China blast site
Recurring explosions setting off fires continue to hamper attempts by nuclear and biological warfare experts to clear hundreds of tonnes of highly poisonous cyanide stored at a warehouse devastated by twin powerful blasts which killed 114 in this Chinese port city.

Tianjin : Recurring explosions setting off fires continue to hamper attempts by nuclear and biological warfare experts to clear hundreds of tonnes of highly poisonous cyanide stored at a warehouse devastated by twin powerful blasts which killed 114 in this Chinese port city.

Two explosions - one on Sunday evening and another on Monday morning - were reported as expert teams announced plans to intensify search for survivors and bodies.

The dead included 21 free fighters, the highest so far in a tragedy in China's recent history.

Over 720 people were injured in the blasts. Nearly 100 people remain missing, including 85 firefighters. Officials fear more blasts due to rains on Monday as the chemicals explode when come in contact with water.

The explosions took place as rescuers began cleaning hundreds of tonnes of cyanide at the blast site, most of which was unaffected raising fears of the possibility for contaminating air and water sources.

Shi Luze, chief of staff of the Beijing Military Area Command, on Sunday said that rescuers were using hydrogen peroxide to neutralise the toxins and building cofferdams to enclose the damaged barrels, while trucking away those intact.

Only safe levels of harmful gas were detected near the blast site, he added.

He said over 2,000 rescuers are searching and cleaning hazardous chemicals outside the core area of the blast site.

Some military chemical specialists found different types of chemicals, including magnesium particles and sulphur scattered in some buildings near the core area.

Bao Jingling, chief engineer of the city's bureau of environmental protection, said among the 17 monitoring sites outside the quarantined area, two reported readings of hydrogen cyanide slightly above the normal standards which would not pose threat to health.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who visited the areas on Sunday, ordered equal treatment for all firefighters who died in the deadly blasts. He said that they should enjoy the same compensation and honour no matter if they were in active service or employed by enterprises.

Li's remarks came as protests broke out on Sunday in Tianjin with local residents and families of the missing firefighters demanding more information and government aid.

More than 15 relatives of firefighters who were employed by Tianjin Port Group reportedly came to the Mayfair Hotel in Binhai New Area, where authorities had held press conferences in the previous days, to ask for more information on the whereabouts of their loved ones.

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