Death Toll from Tianjin Blasts Reaches 158

The death toll from the Tianjin port explosions has risen to 158 people, with 15 people still unaccounted for, the Associated Press reported citing local authorities.

According to Tianjin’s government officials, the casualties were predominantly firefighters, a total of 94, who were rushed to the scene to contain the fires following the blasts, 11 policemen and 53 civilians.

The two huge explosions took place in a warehouse, operated by Ruihai International Logistics Co., located in the port district in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin on August 12th, and were equivalent to 3 tonnes of TNT and 21 tonnes of TNT respectively.

The explosion resulted in dangerously high contamination of the area with cyanide as China’s Port of Tianjin is a major base for petrochemicals, where dangerous chemicals and goods are stored.

The blast site has been hit with several fires on several locations with the blast site following the explosion, including the latest one reported on Monday by Tianjin Daily. As informed, the fire broke our after rain came in contact with magnesium and sodium and was a normal chemical reaction.

The causes of the explosions are not yet known, but initial reports point to a foul play as there are indications that port officials were involved in neglect of duty and abuse of power.

Namely, within the framework of the ongoing investigation China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has detained 12 people suspected of being responsible for the tragedy, including Yu Xuewei, chairman of Tianjin International Ruihai Logistics, the company’s vice-chairman Dong Shexuan, and one employee of a safety evaluation team who is suspected of illegally aiding Ruihai International to receive safety evaluation papers. The detained men are all suspected of illegal storage of dangerous materials, MPS said.

Fitch Ratings believes that the insured losses from the explosions at Tianjin could exceed USD 1bn-1.5bn, making the blasts one of the most costly catastrophe claims for the Chinese insurance sector in the last few years.

World Maritime News Staff

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