It is now four days after the explosions in the Chinese northeastern coastal city of Tianjin, which occurred on Wednesday (August 12th), killing at least 114 people and trapping many more in the ruins after the blast. According to the authorities, at least 70 people are still missing.
Up to the moment, the rescue teams have found more than 50 people alive, said Tianjin government spokesman Gong Jiansheng. Among the survivors was a 19-year-old firefighter who lay on the ground for hours with burns and a serious head injury until he was found.
As it was calculated by the Chinese Seismological Institute one of the blasts had the force of more than 20 tons of TNT. The explosions left more than 700 people injured and thousands homeless.
As stated by Gao Huai You, the deputy director of the city's Work Safety Administration, the warehouse was used as a temporary storage facility for hazardous materials. It was a storage place, where they were housed after their arrival at the port and before they were transported elsewhere.
The warehouse facility was fully destroyed after the explosions and there is still no official information given by the managers of the port storage facility, confirming what kind of chemicals were stored there.
According to Deputy Director Gao, a sodium cyanide, which is a highly toxic chemical that can kill humans rapidly, was one of them.
Military head officials, managing the rescue operations at the site offered more details about what was at the location. On Sunday, military commander, Shi said:
"After on-site inspection, we have found several hundred tons of cyanide material at two locations.”
He added that over 2.000 members of the Chinese military are searching the area within a 3-kilometer radius for hazardous material that may have been blown out by the explosions.
On Thursday, a day after the blasts, measurements of the Tianjin's environment protection showed that some chemical levels in the area were higher than normal but according to specialists they would not be dangerous to humans unless someone were exposed to them for long periods.
By Sunday, toxin levels at the site had dropped to normal and won't cause any health hazards. As it was stated by officials of the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, the air and water are safe for residents.
The cause of the fire at the warehouse has yet to be determined.
As it was reported Thursday by local news media, the executives from Rui Hai International Logistics Co., the company that owned the warehouse, have been taken into custody.
The storage facility was located in a populated district about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the center of Tianjin, a sprawling metropolis inhabited with more than 13 million people.
According to China’s Earthquake Networks Center data within a 5-kilometer radius of the blast are living nearly 90,000 people.