Almost 100 people remain missing, including 85 firefighters.
“(The authorities) didn’t notify us at all”, said Liu Huan, whose son Liu Chuntao has been missing since late Wednesday.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited the port city of Tianjin on Sunday and bowed to portraits of the 21 dead firefighters. East of the plume, white clouds stand out in stark contrast to the black smoke.
As rescue crews raced against the clock to avert further explosions in China’s port city of Tiajin on Monday, senior leaders in Beijing signalled a growing focus on the tragedy, anxious to overcome a yawning trust deficit laid bare by festering public anger and mistrust over perceived missteps and lack of transparency.
The insurance news that will be released with regards to this explosion will greatly depend on the investigators that continue to pick their way through the rubble and wreckage in the search for information about what caused the blast. “We could be living near a ticking time bomb”, one resident, who gave his name as Chen, told reporters.
“We victims demand: Government, buy back our houses”, a banner carried by the residents read, according to the Associated Press.
More than 700 people were injured and 70 are still missing, majority fire fighters, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Residents said they were not aware that unsafe chemicals were being stored in the port.
Local officials have been hard-pressed to explain why authorities permitted hazardous goods warehouses so close to residential complexes and critical infrastructure, clearly in violation of the Chinese rule that hazardous materials storage should be about 1,093 yards away from homes and public structures.
Workers spent another day scouring heaps of rubble for possible survivors, but one of the military commanders in the effort said the odds of finding anyone alive Sunday are slim.
Photographs showed government chemical warfare specialists at the still smouldering site wearing protective clothes and gas masks.
Many people in the area suffered injuries from glass shattered by the huge fireballs that lit up the night sky Wednesday night.
Bao Jingling, chief engineer at Tianjin’s environmental protection bureau, said around 700 tons of sodium cyanide had been stored at the warehouse and were still intact.
Firemen who arrived first at the scene were contract staff employed by a state enterprise running the Tianjin port. They used water to fight the blaze, which could have exacerbated it.
“Out of consideration for toxic substances spreading, the masses nearby have been asked to evacuate”, Xinhua said.
Another commentary published in the China Discipline Inspection and Supervision News, a paper affiliated to the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption watchdog, said industrial disasters such as Tianjin exposed serious loopholes in implementation of the country’s regulations.