Authorities in China continue to clean up a chemical contamination that has caused massive explosions and numerous deaths.
Authorities and military personnel donned in gas masks cordoned off a disaster zone in the Chinese port of Tianjin on Saturday to clean up a sodium cyanide contamination and to put out hostile fires. New isolated explosions have resulted from the contamination, which is a toxic chemical that becomes combustible on contact with water or even dank air.
Rescue efforts continue to pull out survivors despite the climbing death toll to now 104, including 21 firefighters. More are unaccounted for, and 720 people have been injured in the disaster.
Rising flames were reported by locals and state media on Saturday. In one particular combustion, fire swallowed up several vehicles and rose 10 meters, followed by subsequent, smaller ignitions. Toxic, metallic fumes fanned over the death and pandemonium as questions have arisen as to what initiated the disaster now determined to be the worst fire in six decades.
Inquiries are being made into whether these chemicals were being housed in too close proximity to residential zones. One theory is that firefighters could have possibly triggered the explosion unaware that sodium cyanide was being housed nearby and that it became unstable around water.
Firefighter Zhou Ti, who was rescued and has suffered critical injuries, including burns and leg cuts, said, “I was knocked onto the ground at the first blast.”
Local officials are being squeezed to explain why the chemicals were stored where they were, near homes and core infrastructure in violation of a Chinese law that stipulates hazardous material storage should be placed at least 1,000 meters away from such entities.
Source: The Times of India