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Death toll in China’s Tianjin port blasts rises to 85

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Tianjin :The death toll in twin explosions in this Chinese port city on Saturday rose to 85 amid protests from frustrated relatives of the missing fire fighters demanding answers on their loved ones’ fates as specialised anti- chemical warfare soldiers recovered one survivor.

Rescue headquarters said 721 people were admitted to hospitals of which 25 have sustained critical injuries. The condition of 33 injured was stated to be serious. The death toll from explosions has risen to 85, local officials said.

There were 21 firefighters among the dead, the highest so far in China’s recent history. Official media reports said 36 fire fighters were still missing. A man in his fifties was rescued from the blasts site this afternoon, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Specialised anti-chemical soldiers found him 50 meters away from a burst point. He was conscious and could talk and was rushed to a hospital in the city, the report said. A total of 70 specialised anti-chemical soldiers entered the core area of the blasts site this morning to search for possible lives for the first time after the blasts shook the area on Wednesday night.

Indian officials said one Indian employee of commercial firm was among the injured and his condition was stable. Meanwhile, emotional scenes prevailed at the hotel where officials briefed media as over dozen family members of the missing firemen demonstrated calling for more information on their missing relatives.

State-run TV CCTV reported that the relatives wanted the government to provide more details about the whereabouts of their dear ones and efforts made to locate them. A day after the blasts, the Chinese army had deployed 217 military specialists in nuclear and biochemical materials to deal with foul air as the warehouse where blasts took place stored dangerous chemicals, cyanide and combustible materials.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Saturday said that Chemical oxygen demand and cyanide have been detected in the underground pipelines of blocked discharge outlets in the area affected by the explosion, with the excessive discharge three to eight times higher than the standard.

The Beijing News reported that a factory owner said there were at least 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide stored in the warehouse, and traces of sodium cyanide were found in nearby drains after the blasts.

“The level of six chemicals in the five monitoring stations has not significantly risen, and is consistent with other parts of the city,” Wen Wurui, head of the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, told the media. Senior management of Ruihai International Logistics had been detained by authorities. Investigations are to find out the cause of the explosions, officials said.

PTI