Victims of fatal warehouse blast mourned in China

Police detain 10 people, including chairman and vice chairman of company owning warehouse where blast killed 114 people

Victims of fatal warehouse blast mourned in China

World Bulletin / News Desk

Hundreds of people gathered in a port city in northern China on Tuesday to mourn the victims of a warehouse explosion that has claimed at least 114 lives.

Cargo ships blared their horns in memory of the dead in Tianjin city, which sounded a siren during a ceremony attended by more than 300 people at a garden in the Binhai New Area, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The mourning ceremony was held according to Chinese traditional beliefs that souls return home on the seventh day after a death.

Family members of the victims, firemen and policemen – whose colleagues account for many among the dead -- laid white chrysanthemums in front of a memorial wall with a sign reading "condolences to those who died in the August 12 accident."

An unnamed woman who had finished celebrating her 30th birthday when Wednesday’s accident occurred told Xinhua that the blast had caused her apartment building, located 10 kilometers from the site, to shake as if there were an earthquake.

"The sky was lit up. It was horrible," she said. "It was my most unforgettable birthday. I will never be happy on my birthdays in the future."

As of Tuesday morning, 83 of the recovered bodies had been identified while 57 people remain missing.

Of the more than 690 people still in hospitals, 20 are critical condition and 37 severely injured.

Tianjin's bureau of environmental protection has assured that rain forecast during the day would not pose a threat to people's health, underlining that if deemed necessary, an evacuation would be ordered.

Bao Jingling, chief engineer at the bureau, told a press conference that outside the cordoned off area near the warehouse, excessive levels of toxic cyanide had not been detected.

"An excessive level of cyanide has been detected at eight locations within the cordoned off area from 0:00-24:00 Monday, with the highest reaching 28.4 times," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Niu Yueguang, Ministry of Public Security deputy director, said that around 3,000 tons of 40 poisonous chemicals had been stored at the warehouse at the time of the accident.

Among them were 700 tons of sodium cyanide, 800 tons of ammonium nitrate and 500 tons of potassium nitrate.

Reports have suggested that the company that owned the Tianjin city warehouse, Rui Hai International Logistics, may have been illegally transporting chemicals.

Ten people were detained last week, including Rui Hai chairman Yu Xuewei and vice chairman Du Shexuan, amid investigations into the blast, Xinhua reported officials as saying Tuesday.

Meanwhile, China’s anti-graft watchdog announced that a former Tianjin official had been placed under investigation, without indicating whether the development was connected to the recent explosion.

Yang Dongliang, the secretary of the State Administration of Work Safety who had served as vice mayor of Tianjin until May 2012, has been accused of "breach of discipline,” the watchdog said on its website.

On Saturday, President Xi Jinping had urged authorities to learn from the "extremely profound" lesson.

In the wake of the incident, China’s most populated city Shanghai has launched widespread work safety inspections for enterprises dealing with hazardous chemicals, inflammable materials and explosives.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Ağustos 2015, 13:44