Over a thousand local residents displaced by the Tianjin port warehouse blasts protested outside a hotel where officials were briefing the media Wednesday morning, demanding compensation for their damaged houses near the blast site.
The massive blasts at Ruihai International Logistics warehouse for hazardous chemicals have left 114 people dead including 53 firefighters as of August 19.
Property owners of nearby communities, which are about 600 meters away from the blasts site, gathered outside the Mayfair Hotel where head of Tianjin Port Holdings Company first appeared at the press conference since the tragedy occurred on August 12. Vice mayor of Tianjin Cao Xiaohong and environment chief were also present at the briefing.
The residents demanded that local government “buy back” their damaged houses, whose windows were all shattered away by the blast that was equal to detonating 20 tons of TNT.
Some carried signs that read “we don’t want to be lab mice” and “buy back our homes.” Some of the residents became jobless as their companies were also damaged by the blasts.
Police and security guards blocked the crowd from entering the hotel. There were no clashes between them.
The government has begun to tackle the damage claims. A third party will evaluate the economic losses of each household, said Zong Guoying, standing committee member of Tianjin Municipality yesterday.
Zheng Qingyue, chairman of Tianjin Port Holdings said Ruihai is not under the jurisdiction of Tianjin Port. “We have been busy with rescue works since the blasts. We will cooperate with the investigation led by the State Council and punish the guilty,” Zheng said.
Bao Jingling, chief engineer of the Tianjin Environmental Bureau, also quashed rumors that the environment was contaminated by the chemical residue after its contact with Tuesday’s rainfall.
“Our testers and I were working under the rain yesterday. None of us has reported any symptoms of poisoning so far,” Bao said. Among the 700 injured people, none has reported chemical poisoning, he said.
Cyanide contamination was found at eight of the 25 water testing sites within the blast zone. All the air quality test sites showed that there was no air pollution. Water in the blast zone drainage was the most polluted and it has been closed off, he said.
State broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday that poisonous air was found within the core blast zone. “We can’t reach the core zone so we don’t know the situation. But we will contact with the anti-chemical corps at the front. We will closely monitor any traces of poisoning,” Bao added.