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One rescued from blast site in China amid contamination fears

One rescued from blast site in China amid contamination fears
Highlights

A young firefighter was rescued on Friday from the site of the powerful blasts at a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals that killed at least 55...

A young firefighter was rescued on Friday from the site of the powerful blasts at a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals that killed at least 55 people here in one of China’s worst industrial disasters as rescuers raced against time to find survivors amid contamination fears.

The survivor, who was pulled out 32 hours after the twin explosions shattered the Ruihai warehouse, was identified as a 19-year-old firefighter named Zhou Ti who belongs to the Binhai New Area brigade of Tianjin’s fire department.
More than 1,020 firefighters and 140 fire engines have been deployed to douse the fire, said Zhou Tian, head of Tianjin’s fire department, said. Thick smoke billowed from the blast site, 140 km from Beijing, as most of the fire had been doused.
“When the blast occurred, several firefighters were working to put out the fire, and backup forces had just arrived. They were caught off guard, so the casualties are grave,” Zhou said.
He did not specify the number of missing firemen. However, Beijing News reported that 36 fire fighters are still missing.
“Forces from all sides are searching for the missing firefighters,” he said. The senior management of Ruihai International Logistics had been detained by authorities. Gao Huaiyou, deputy director of Tianjin’s work safety watchdog, cited major discrepancies between the accounts of company management and customs and damage to the company’s office as reasons they are unable to identify the chemicals.
Cargo is stored in a warehouse for not over 40 days before being transferred elsewhere, Gao said. Environmental organisation Greenpeace Beijing expressed concerns over health risks posed by certain chemicals after the two massive explosions rocked the city of 15 million people.
Q How long will the fires keep burning?
A: Firefighters have been using foam to try to extinguish the remaining fires at the blast site.Some debris has been cleared to make a path for firefighters to gain access to the main blast area. Firefighters have prepared 600 tons of sand to be used to put out the remaining fires.
Q What caused the deadly explosions?
A: Fire officials say hazardous chemicals stored at the warehouse were ignited by fire. But the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Executives from Rui Hai International Logistics Co., the company that owned the warehouse, have been taken into custody.
Q What is the environmental toll?
A: Some chemical levels in the area were higher than normal but that they wouldn't be dangerous to human health unless someone is exposed to them for long periods. The wind has so far been helping by blowing fumes out to sea rather than toward the center of the city.
Q What chemicals did the warehouse store?
A : Sodium cyanide, a highly toxic chemical that can rapidly kill humans exposed to it, was one of the materials, stored. Greenpeace said other dangerous chemicals stored at the site included toluene diisocyanate and calcium carbide.
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