Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

New fires in China's Tianjin port disaster zone

Published 21/08/2015

More than 100 people were killed in the blasts in Tianjin (AP)
More than 100 people were killed in the blasts in Tianjin (AP)

Four new fires burned within a disaster zone in China's Tianjin port where massive warehouse explosions more than a week ago killed at least 114 people and contaminated the area with toxic chemicals.

The fires were spotted in a car park and at three other locations within a 3km (1.8-mile) evacuated area, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It did not give more details but the state-run Legal Evening News said firefighters put out the fire in the car park and that clean-up work in the disaster zone soon resumed.

Technicians have detected levels of cyanide as much as 356 times the safe level within the evacuated zone, although no abnormal contamination was found outside the zone, according to state media reports.

Workers in protective suits have started clearing wreckage, including charred car bodies and crumpled shipping containers, from the area of chemical warehouses that exploded on August 12. Xinhua said excavating equipment was being used to clear the site and trucks were carrying out debris.

Officials have ordered nationwide checks on dangerous materials. Driving home the importance of such efforts, President Xi Jinping and other top leaders gathered in Beijing to hear a report on progress in investigating the disaster.

"Lately, in some places there have been major industrial safety accidents, one after the other, revealing yet again that problems in the area of industrial safety remain prominent and grave," said a statement issued after the meeting on Thursday.

Suspicions that official corruption contributed to the disaster were underlined in revelations on Wednesday in a Xinhua article that the two silent owners used their connections with police, fire, port and workplace safety officials to secure approval for their company, Ruihai International Logistics, to operate warehouses for hazardous materials.

The Ruihai owners were able to secure permits to store toxic chemicals, including sodium cyanide, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate, even though their facility is located less than the required 1,000 meters from homes and public roads - a clear violation of state safety rules.

An Associated Press review of corporate documents found that the principal owner, Yu Xuewei, was also a board member of a state-owned company that operates hazmat warehouses that have similarly been accused of violating the 1,000-metre rule. The state-owned company's parent, Sinochem, has disavowed any connection with Ruihai.

Chinese state TV reported that a shipment of explosives had exploded in Tianjin
Chinese state TV reported that a shipment of explosives had exploded in Tianjin
Photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. AFP/Getty Images
Photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. AFP/Getty Images
Police help a man to safety near the explosion site (AP)
A screen grab from taken from state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) footage on August 12, 2015 shows a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin.
TOPSHOTS A damaged car is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOTS A damaged fire truck is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOTS An injured man walks out from a residential area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOTS Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 13th August 2015 - Hilden Incident Pictured is police officers at the scene of an industrial incident at the Hilden Brewery in Lisburn Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Rescuers are seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Fire and smoke is seen from a broken window of an apartment near the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Fire and smoke rises at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Brand new cars parked in Tianjin port are seen badly damaged at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A melted tyre of a car is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A damaged fire truck is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A damaged police car is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Staff of a maternity hospital wait to provide help to injured people being housed at a school near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Two women sleep on the road outside a damaged residential building near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. E normous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
An injured man walks beside the emergency unit of Teda Hospital near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
An injured woman arrives at the emergency unit of Teda Hospital near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
An injured man arrives at the emergency unit of Teda Hospital near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
An injured man arrives at the emergency unit of Teda Hospital near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
Damaged cars and containers are seen at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. A series of enormous explosions at an industrial area in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 44 people and injured hundreds, state media reported August 13, unleashing a fireball that ripped through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke rises behind damaged shipping containers at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. A series of enormous explosions at an industrial area in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 17 people and injured hundreds, state media reported August 13, unleashing a fireball that ripped through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke rises behind damaged shipping containers at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. A series of enormous explosions at an industrial area in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 17 people and injured hundreds, state media reported August 13, unleashing a fireball that ripped through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOTS Smoke billows behind rows of burnt out cars at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Shattered windows are seen on the façade of a residential building near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
An injured worker (L) walks out with colleagues from the area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters walk past rows of burnt out Volkswagen cars near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
A man looks at a row of damaged cars outside a residential building near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
The burnt wreckage of a car is seen as flames rise in the background at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
An official wearing a mask stands by a police car at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Fire fighters in protective gear watch as smoke continues to billow out after an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions in the warehouse district sent up massive fireballs that turned the night sky into day in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials and witnesses said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Smoke billows from the site of an explosion that reduced a parking lot filled with new cars to charred remains at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge, fiery blasts at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals killed many people and turned nearby buildings into skeletal shells in the Chinese port of Tianjin, raising questions Thursday about whether the materials had been properly stored. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Photographers walk near the deformed remains of containers after an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge, fiery blasts at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals killing many people and turned nearby buildings into skeletal shells in the Chinese port of Tianjin, raising questions Thursday about whether the materials had been properly stored. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Fire fighters in protective gear watch partially pink smoke continue to billow after an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge, fiery blasts at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals killed many people and turned nearby buildings into skeletal shells in the Chinese port of Tianjin, raising questions Thursday about whether the materials had been properly stored. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An injured person is brought into a hospital following explosions in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Smoke continues at the accident site after explosions from a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 50 people died and more than 700 were injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Fire and smoke continues to rise at the site of a massive explosion at a warehouse in the Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 50 people died and more than 700 were injured in the explosion on Wednesday, August 12. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

The explosions that rocked Tianjin were among China's worst industrial accidents in recent years and the deadliest on record for the country's firefighters, who accounted for 102 of the 179 total dead and missing. Authorities say almost 700 people remain in hospital, while 30,000 people in and around the area have had their lives turned upside down by the disaster.

Premier Li Keqiang said the investigation into the disaster must be thorough and cover every step taken by the company to obtain the licence to store hazardous materials.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph