The death toll from huge explosions in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin almost two weeks ago has risen to 135, officials said Tuesday.
Two blasts ripped through a warehouse in Tianjin Port where hundreds of tonnes of toxic chemicals were stored, including around 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, at around 11:30 p.m. on August 12.
Among these agencies were Tianjin’s transport, land resources, work safety and customs offices, besides state-owned port companies.
The 12 arrested include owners of Rui Hai worldwide Logistics who were shown on state television last week, when they were already being held by police, “confessing” to using government connections to obtain safety permits.
“I thought it was an natural disaster, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on”, Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, whose home is several kilometers from the blast site, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Authorities said they were suspected of illegal storage of unsafe materials.
Beijing further announced that it has launched an investigation into how the warehouse had managed to pass safety evaluation checks, speculating that Tianjin Zhongbin Haisheng, a safety evaluation company, may have colluded with Ruihai in the process.
XinhuaThe scene of the explosions in Tianjin earlier this month. It had a fire-damaged apartment on the 19th floor, and parts of its rebar were exposed, said Zhao Yi, chief engineer of the team that conducted the inspection.
Tianjin is a major industrial centre and the world’s 10th largest port and while it has managed to keep operating mostly, the damage to warehouse facilities has been heavy, and closed roads have made getting goods in and out harder.
At least 114 people were killed as a result of the explosions, and 69 people are reported missing.
Only 95 people remain in a school used as a temporary sheltering point.