Chemicals of Tianjin warehouse blasts yet to be identified

Firefighters are working around the clock at the blast site in Binhai New District of Tianjin Photo: Kong Hao

One firefighter has been rescued from the Tianjin blasts site Friday morning but the hazardous chemicals that triggered the massive explosions at a warehouse have still not been identified, local authorities said at a press conference.

The death toll of the tragedy has risen to 55 including 17 firefighters. More than 700 people were injured.

“We are unable to identify the type and quantity of the chemicals because the cargo is only temporarily stored in the warehouse before being moved elsewhere,” Gao Huaiyou, deputy chief of Tianjin Administration of Work Safety, told the media.

There were multiple blasts during the rescue because different types of chemicals were mixed up at the site in Binhai New District, Gao said.

The survivor rescued Friday morning from the explosion site is confirmed to be a 19-year-old firefighter from Tianjin, Zhou Ti. He has injuries to his face and chest, but is in a stable condition.

The first blast occurred at around 11:20 pm at Ruihai warehouse on Wednesday, followed by a stronger second one that was the equivalent of detonating 21 tons of TNT.

Ruihai, established in 2012, handles over a million tons of cargo every year. It is involved in compressed and liquefied gas (argon and liquefied natural gas), flammable liquids (methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate), flammable solids and matter that would explode when coming in contact with water (sulphur, nitrocellulose, calcium carbide and calcium-silicon) and toxic articles (sodium cyanide).

The blast site belongs to Tianjin east free port logistics and processing area, which is about 600 meters away from the nearest residential compound.

Messages about the logistics port on WeChat and Weibo were deleted on Friday.

Meanwhile, hazardous substances have been detected from two drainage outlets near the blast site, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.

The harmful pollutants, including chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and cyanide - a highly toxic chemical compound, were found to be three times and eight times higher than the usual levels, according to the ministry.

The drainage outlet to the Bohai Sea has been closed, and the bureau is conducting an investigation into water quality.


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