Tian­jin death toll rises to 121 as probe pledged

The China Post - - ASIA -

Main­land China’s State Coun­cil, or ex­ec­u­tive body, has vowed to con­duct a “rig­or­ous” in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of last week’s ex­plo­sions in the north­ern port city of Tian­jin as the death toll rose to 121, state media re­ported on Satur­day.

The main­land author­i­ties will pub­lish the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which it pledged would be timely and ac­cu­rate, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

The ex­plo­sions at a haz­ardous goods stor­age fa­cil­ity on Aug. 12 trig­gered a gi­ant fire­ball and new fires broke out as re­cent as Fri­day.

The death toll rose to 121 on Satur­day, up from a fig­ure of 116 the pre­vi­ous day. Some 54 peo­ple re­main miss­ing, Xin­hua said in a sep­a­rate re­port.

Res­i­dents and oth­ers have ques­tioned how haz­ardous chem­i­cals could have been stored close to residential ar­eas.

The own­ers of the haz­ardous goods stor­age com­pany at the cen­tre of the in­ci­dent, Rui Hai In­ter­na­tional Lo­gis­tics, re­port­edly in­cluded the son of a for­mer po­lice chief who used his con­nec­tions to help the firm ob­tain the nec­es­sary per­mits and pass in­spec­tions.

The blasts have also sparked fears of toxic pol­lu­tants con­tam­i­nat­ing the air and wa­ter of the city, which has a pop­u­la­tion around 15 mil­lion peo­ple.

Thou­sands of tonnes of haz­ardous chem­i­cals were stored at the site, of­fi­cials have said, in­clud­ing about 700 tonnes of highly poi­sonous sodium cyanide, a white pow­der or crys­tal that can give off lethal hy­dro­gen cyanide gas.

The Tian­jin en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau said that only one out of its 18 air sam­ples had found pres­ence of the gas on Satur­day.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal bureau said on Thurs­day that cyanide lev­els of more than 350 times stan­dard lim­its have been de­tected in wa­ter close to the site, but gave no up­dated fig­ures on Satur­day.

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