Armed Chinese police in Tianjin are evacuating the site of Wednesday’s explosion amid fears that chemical gases could kill more people.
Police say they have found traces of the toxic gas sodium cyanide at the scene of the disaster, which can kill almost instantly when inhaled. All residents within a three-kilometre radius have been ordered to evacuate, including those taking shelter in a local school who were made homeless by the blast.
According to The People’s Daily newspaper, anti-chemical warfare troops are now on site to determine the cause of gas and to stop it.
— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) August 15, 2015
State media outlet Xinhua have reported that seven or eight more explosions from at least three locations have rocked the scene. Images of thick black smoke rising from several cars at a nearby car park are also being circulated.
As the death toll continues to rise, the Chinese police have been criticised for the lack of information being distributed to the families of those who perished. At one press conference, relatives of contract firefighters who died at the scene were visibly distraught as they demanded to be told what happened to their loved ones.
Despite the confusion at the scene, a 19-year-old firefighter named Zhou Ti is said to have been found alive only 20 metres from the epicentre of the blast. Doctors are calling his survival ‘miraculous’ as he had huge burns and cuts across his body.