China: Death toll after blast at warehouse rises to 112
Tons of sodium cyanide found at site; potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and calcium carbide also discovered

Containers storing what is believed to be several hundred tons of sodium cyanide have been located in a port in north China where 112 people lost their lives following last week's massive warehouse explosion, state media reported Sunday.

Xinhua reported Shi Luze, the chief of staff of the Beijing military region, as telling a press conference Sunday that some of the exposed highly toxic chemical is being controlled with hydrogen peroxide and other solutions.

Luze added that intact containers of the chemical – fatal when ingested or inhaled - would soon be collected and transported to safe places.

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

Until Sunday, the presence of potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and calcium carbide - which reacts with water to create the highly explosive acetylene - had also been confirmed.

Around 100 people remain missing, including 85 firefighters. Pictures from the site in the port city - around 75 miles east of Beijing - showed thousands of mangled, melted cars and containers alongside a huge crater into the ground.

On Saturday, the China Daily reported that specialized anti-chemical soldiers had entered the core area to search for those still missing. Meanwhile, another 1,100 troops combed residential quarters for survivors.

Xinhua reported that the soldiers - clad in heavy protective suits - found a male survivor Saturday afternoon just 50 meters from a burst sodium cyanide container, two-and-a-half days after the initial blast.

A doctor from a local hospital said he suffered from respiratory tract burn, but was in a stable condition after treatment.

Of the bodies discovered so far, 24 have been identified and 88 others will need DNA testing. The majority killed in the blast were firemen, who had been sent to the site to handle an earlier blaze. It was the worst disaster to affect firefighters in 60 years.

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

In a written instruction, he said that the blasts and other serious recent accidents had highlighted lapses in safety in the workplace, and authorities should keep "safe growth" and "people's interest first."

Xinhua reported the State Council calling for a national tele-conference to make such workplaces safer.

Sodium cyanide is a white powder that interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen.

It can be fatal if inhaled or ingested.

When dissolved or burned it releases the poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide.

AA
Last Modified: 2015-08-16 12:52:51
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