Anger Boiling Over for Relatives of Missing China Firefighters

Death toll climbs as smaller explosions are reported
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2015 6:15 AM CDT
Anger Boiling Over for Relatives of Missing China Firefighters
Smoke rises from debris near a crater that was at the center of a series of explosions in Tianjin.   (Chinatopix Via AP)

New small explosions rocked a disaster zone in the Chinese port of Tianjin today, as authorities pulled out an additional survivor and began evacuating the area to clean up chemical contamination nearly three days after massive explosions touched off the crisis. Angry relatives of missing firefighters stormed a government news conference to demand any information on their loved ones, who have not been found since a fire and rapid succession of blasts late Wednesday at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals. The death toll in the inferno in a mostly industrial area has climbed to 85, including 21 firefighters—making the disaster the deadliest for Chinese firefighters in more than six decades.

The authorities "didn't notify us at all," said Liu Huan, whose firefighter son Liu Chuntao has been missing since Wednesday. "Our son is a firefighter, and there was a team of firefighters who lost contact. We couldn't contact him." Liu Longwang said she had not heard a word on her son Liu Ziqiao, also a firefighter. "We are extremely worried," she said. "He's just turned 18." An unknown number of firefighters remain missing, and a total of 720 people were injured in the disaster in Tianjin, a key port and petrochemical hub about 75 miles east of Beijing. Authorities today pulled out one survivor from a shipping container, state media reported. His identity was not immediately known. The disaster has raised questions about whether firefighters may have triggered the blasts, possibly because they were unaware the warehouse contained chemicals combustible on contact with water. (Read more China stories.)

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