Tianjin mourns victims amid environmental concerns

World Today

Chinese policemen pause during a memorial service for victims of the Tianjin blasts near the disaster’s epicenter in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015 (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT

Environmental authorities in Tianjin are concerned that rains could complicate rescue efforts and further spread dangerous chemicals and other pollutants leaked from the warehouse that was at the center of last week’s deadly explosions.

Thunderstorms lashed the city on Tuesday, and China’s central meteorological authority has predicted that the rain will continue around the blasts site, where some 3,000 tons of toxic dangerous chemicals are still stocked.

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A chemical weapons specialist at the site told Xinhua that rainwater could mix with the chemicals, adding to the probability of new explosions and the spread of toxins.

Authorities have said that the cofferdams built around the 100,000-square-meter core area of the blasts will receive constant reinforcement to prevent the outflow of contaminated water after it rains.

Bao Jinglin, the chief engineer of Tianjin’s environment protection office, said they will drain away some of the water accumulating on the site as soon as the chemicals contained in the water are sufficiently neutralized.

A COUNTRY MOURNS

Chinese soldiers, policemen and paramilitary policemen bow their heads at a memorial service for victims of the Tianjin blasts near the disaster's epicenter in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Thunderstorms on Tuesday complicated recovery efforts from last week's massive deadly explosions at a warehouse in Tianjin's port that exposed dangerous chemicals — including some that could become flammable on contact with water. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT

Chinese soldiers, policemen and paramilitary policemen bow their heads at a memorial service for victims of the Tianjin blasts near the disaster’s epicenter in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. (Chinatopix Via AP)

Meanwhile, people across Tianjin observed a moment of silence on Tuesday. As per Chinese traditions, the seventh day after death is a key ritualistic day for mourning. The blasts killed 114 people, while 692 others are still being treated in local hospitals.

Cargo ship horns blared and a siren was sounded, as more than 300 people, including officials from the Tianjin municipal government, paid silent tribute at a garden in the Binhai New Area, where the warehouse was located.

Firemen, armed police, volunteers and relatives of the victims lined up to lay bouquets of white chrysanthemum in front of a memorial wall.

At the TEDA Hospital, where the wounded were sent, more than 100 medical staff lit candles arranged as a heart outside the emergency hall.

For many of the survivors, that night of chaos continues to haunt them.

“The building began to shake. I thought it was an earthquake,” a survivor told Xinhua when discussing the ferocity of the blasts. Last Wednesday was her birthday, and she had been celebrating with her friends and family in her apartment, located 10 kilometers away from the blast site.

“The sky was lit up. It was horrible. It was my most unforgettable birthday. I will never be happy on my birthdays in the future,” she added.

FIREFIGHTERS REMEMBERED

Residents of the Harbour City apartment complex light candles at a memorial near their building for victims of the Tianjin blasts in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Thunderstorms on Tuesday complicated recovery efforts from last week’s massive deadly explosions at a warehouse in China’s Tianjin port that exposed dangerous chemicals - including some that could become flammable on contact with water. (AP Photo/Paul Traynor)

Residents of the Harbour City apartment complex light candles at a memorial near their building for victims of the Tianjin blasts in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Traynor)

While residents struggle to comprehend what had happened in those first few minutes, firefighters raced through the city to the site, only to find a lethal fate awaiting them.

Many of the first responders to the blaze were caught unaware of the nature of the threat and were caught up in the subsequent explosions.

The tragedy has so far claimed the lives of 40 firefighters, making it one of the worst disasters in China’s firefighting history. On Tuesday, at the Tianjin development zone fire station, hundreds of firefighters honored their fallen colleagues.

However, it’s not just them, but people across China have also been paying tributes to these brave men, with stories of their courage being repeatedly shared on social media.

One such story is of Yang Gang, a 23-year-old firefighter who perished in the flames on Wednesday night. His death became public after a text message sent by his colleagues became public. “Gangzi’s gone,” the message read referring to Yang’s nickname. “He’s dead.”

Despite being just 23 years old, Yang had been involved in some 2,700 emergencies. However, he isn’t the youngest of the firemen to have perished. Yuan Hai, 18, was among the first responders. He died as the second explosion rocked the warehouse.

RUI HAI PROBE CONTINUES

Chinese officials, at left, try to convince residents of apartments damaged by the Tianjin blasts to stop demonstrating outside a hotel where regular official news conferences have been held in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Thunderstorms on Tuesday complicated recovery efforts from last week’s massive deadly explosions at a warehouse in China’s Tianjin port that exposed dangerous chemicals - including some that could become flammable on contact with water. (AP Photo/Borg Wong)

Chinese officials, at left, try to convince residents of apartments damaged by the Tianjin blasts to stop demonstrating outside a hotel where regular official news conferences have been held in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Borg Wong)

Initial investigations into the blasts have led to several questions being raised about the operations of Rui Hai International Logistics Company, the company that owned the warehouse.

Rui Hai was founded in 2012 and has the necessary license for storing dangerous chemicals. An investigative report on Caixin.com shows that the company was given permission to conduct the business from June 23, 2015 to February 28, 2018.

However, according to Chinese law, dangerous chemicals cannot be stored within 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from residential apartments. And in that regard, Rui Hai’s warehouse clearly breached the guidelines.

Since the blasts, police have detained 10 senior management officials of the company, and an investigation is currently underway under the supervision of Yang Huanning, a deputy minister from the Ministry of Public Security.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Yang Dongliang, Director of State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), has been placed under investigation for suspected serious violation of laws and discipline. According to official records, Yang had worked as the deputy mayor of Tianjin from 2001 to 2012.

Story by CCTV News


Mourning ceremonies honor Tianjin’s dead

The death toll has risen to 114, with more than 700 injured and 57 missing, Tuesday marks the seventh day since the tragedy occurred. In Chinese tradition, it is the time when the living pay tribute to those who died. Mourning ceremonies took place across the region. CCTV’s Li Qiong filed this report.

Mourning ceremonies honor city\'s dead

We start today's program with the deadly explosions that occurred in the port of Tianjin last week. The death toll has risen to 114, with more than 700 injured and 57 missing, Tuesday marks the seventh day since the tragedy occurred. And in Chinese tradition, it's the time when the living pay tribute to those who died. Mourning ceremonies took place across the region. CCTV's Li Qiong filed this report.


White foam may be from Tianjin blast dust

Tianjin has encountered its first rainfall since last week’s deadly explosions. Residents posted photos on social media showing what appears to be white foam appearing in the streets as the rain fell. Many people including a Xinhua reporter say they felt a burning sensation when rain contacted their skin. Environmental monitoring experts released data soon after the rains stopped and said the city’s air quality is safe. CCTV’s Hu Chao filed this report.

White foam may be from blast dust

Tianjin has encountered its first rainfall since last week's deadly explosions. Residents posted photos on social media showing what appears to be white foam appearing in the streets as the rain fell. Many people including a Xinhua reporter say they felt a burning sensation when rain contacted their skin. Environmental monitoring experts released data soon after the rains stopped and said the city's air quality is safe. CCTV's Hu Chao filed this report.


Fu Pengcheng on how Tianjin rain presents potential hazard

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Follow Mike Walter on Twitter @mikewaltercctv

Fu Pengcheng on how Tianjin rain presents potential hazard

Chemicals are just some of the challenges facing crews trying to assess the damage in Tianjin. For more about that, CCTV America's Mike Walter spoke to Fu Pengcheng. He's a professor at Beijing University's School of Chemical Technology.


Tianjin disaster causes economic fallout

The Tianjin Binhai New Area is home to many foreign-invested factories. It’s now been seven days since the powerful blasts took place, but some factories, especially those that suffered severe damage, are still not ready to reopen. CCTV reporter Xing Zheming has more.

Tianjin disaster causes economic fallout

The Tianjin Binhai New Area is home to many foreign-invested factories. It's now been seven days since the powerful blasts took place, but some factories, especially those that suffered severe damage, are still not ready to reopen. CCTV reporter Xing Zheming has more.