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China vows rigorous probe into Tianjin blast,toll jumps to 121

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Beijing:  China today promised a thorough probe into the country’s worst industrial disaster at a warehouse in Tianjin city even as the death toll in the blasts rose to 121, including 67 firefighters and seven policemen.

Five teams deployed by the Chinese cabinet have been assigned to investigate the cause, accountability and institutional loopholes that led to the fatal explosion, an official told state-run Xinhua news agency.

Initial probe pointed to some influential officials owning the warehouse where deadly chemicals were stored, flouting rules.

The cabinet has promised a rigorous and thorough probe into the deadly blasts, the report said.

Meanwhile, the toll in the accident today rose from 116 to 121 as five more patients succumbed to injuries caused by the deadly explosions at the warehouse where over 3,000 tonnes chemicals, including 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, were stored.

Ten days after the powerful blasts, it is still not known what caused the fire that resulted in the explosions.

The probe teams are tasked with surveying the site, collecting evidence, testing samples collected from the site, interviewing witnesses and reviewing the laws and regulations related to incidents such as this.

The findings will be published once all evidence has been submitted to the cabinet, the official said, adding that it was its top priority to ensure the investigation was both timely and accurate.

A total of 640 people remained in hospital, including 48 critically injured. Over 151 people have been discharged, the report said.

The police have conducted DNA tests on the 121 victims of the blasts and identified 120 of them as this China’s key port city, third largest in the would is returning to normalcy after explosions.

The massive cleanup operation at the core area of the explosions is progressing, said Wang Hongjiang, vice mayor of the north China municipality.

So far, 200 tonnes of sodium cyanide has been collected and removed from the site and the focus will now shift to metallic sodium and magnesium.

Over 3,000 tonnes of polluted water from the core blast area have been removed and treated, Wang said.

“Contamination at the core blast area is now under control, and the  surrounding area is safe,” the vice mayor said, reassuring city’s 7.5 million people who were concerned about air and water contamination after thousands of dead fish surfaced in the Tianjin river.

Cyanide levels in samples from rivers and offshore were below toxic levels, said Deng Xiaowen, head of the city environment monitoring centre.

The blasts have affected 17,000 households to varying degrees, leaving at least 6,300 in temporary housing. Almost all of those people have now left.

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