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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

China orders evacuations near Tianjin blast site amid chemical fears

Iran Press TV

Aug 15, 2015 9:8AM

Fears of chemical contamination have prompted Chinese authorities to order mass evacuations in areas near the site of recent explosions that claimed dozens of lives in the northeastern port city of Tianjin.

China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday that evacuations are being carried out by armed police within a three-kilometer radius of the Tianjin blast site.

“Out of consideration for toxic substances spreading, the masses nearby have been asked to evacuate,” reported Xinhua, adding that hundreds of evacuees have been placed in nearby shelters, including an elementary school.

According to estimates, more evacuations are expected as Tianjin is one of the most populated cities in China with nearly eight million residents.

Police said they were acting on “orders from higher authorities” and began instructing people within three kilometers of the epicenter of blasts to be promptly evacuated, said the Beijing News daily.

“No people or vehicle allowed within the area,” police commanders reportedly told local media.

Blasts destroyed the warehouse in Tianjin Binhai New Area on Wednesday night. The death toll from the Wednesday explosions has reportedly reached 85, including 21 firefighters, with more than 700 injured.

Officials had said earlier that specialists from sodium cyanide producers were being sent in to the goods storage facility, where the massive explosives took place.

Xinhua also reported that fires have broken out before noon local time on Saturday at the Tianjin blast site again. According to the report, seven to eight blasts from at least three separate locations were heard at the scene, sending thick smoke into the sky

State broadcaster CCTV also reported that several cars had exploded in the nearby car park.

Local media have also quoted sources with the People’s Armed Police as saying that sodium cyanide had been discovered at the epicenter of the explosion.

According to scientists, calcium carbide reacts with water to create the highly explosive acetylene, while sodium cyanide is soluble in water and can be fatal if inhaled or ingested.

Chinese officials have, however, assured the public that air and water quality levels are safe.

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