Moment of silence honors Tianjin's dead

2015-08-19 09:15China Daily Editor: Si Huan
At the memorial hall of the fire department in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, residents pay respect on Tuesday to the firefighters who died in last week's explosions.  (Zhu Xingxin/China Daily)

At the memorial hall of the fire department in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, residents pay respect on Tuesday to the firefighters who died in last week's explosions. (Zhu Xingxin/China Daily)

Relatives of the missing remain hopeful

Cargo ship horns blared in honor of the dead, while people stood in silent mourning in Tianjin at 9 am on Tuesday, the seventh day from the time of the blasts - a key date for people to pay respects to the deceased.[Special coverage]

The city sounded a siren as more than 300 people paid tribute at a garden in the Binhai New Area.

Firefighters, armed police officers, volunteers and relatives of the victims lined up to lay bouquets of white chrysanthemums in front of a memorial wall, where a solemn sign expressed "grief for those who died in the Aug 12 accident".

As of Tuesday, 114 people had been confirmed dead and hundreds injured, while 57 remained missing.

Relatives and friends of the missing, however, said they are still waiting for their loved ones to come back.

Yin Dipeng, a firefighter in Tianjin whose colleagues remain missing after rushing to the rescue, said he still believes they might come back someday.

"We are waiting for them, as long as they're not confirmed dead," the 28-year-old firefighter said.

In a mourning hall near the blast site, a list of names of the missing firefighters hangs on the wall.

China's anti-graft authority announced it is investigating the nation's top official of work safety for alleged violation of laws and disciplines of the Communist Party of China.

Yang Dongliang, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety, worked in Tianjin for about 18 years. However, the announcement from the anti-corruption body did not identify links between the probe and the Tianjin blasts.

Additionally, two officials of the Tianjin Binhai New Area are being held under investigation for alleged dereliction of duty, local prosecutors said.

Torrential rains hit the Tianjin Binhai New Area on Tuesday morning, the first rainfall after last week's deadly explosions, prompting fears that the rain waters could be polluted by toxic chemicals remaining at the site and contaminate surrounding areas, affecting the health of the public.

Bao Jingling, chief engineer of the municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, said that the rain would not pose any risk to people's health, and that an evacuation would be ordered if necessary.

Bao said emergency action plans are in place to deal with problems that might arise from precipitation.

China's central meteorological authority has predicted a thunderstorm over the site where the explosions occurred.

Bao said there is no excessive level of the toxic chemical sodium cyanide outside the cordoned-off area.

Also on Tuesday, local authorities said residents near the scene of the blasts will be compensated according to the extent of the damage to their property.

Zong Guoying, top official of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, said at a news conference that the area's government has set up a service center to coordinate issues related to compensating for damaged homes and property.

At least 17,000 households near Tianjin Port were damaged during the blasts, in addition to 1,700 industrial companies and 675 stores nearby.

Zong said the public will be able to choose from a list of independent institutions - paid by the government - to assess the damage and level of compensation.

Fitch Ratings said on Tuesday that the cost of the Tianjin explosions for Chinese insurance companies could be in the range of $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

The organization said it expects the number of reported insurance claims to surge further since the incident is still developing, and the disaster could become one of the most costly catastrophe claims for the Chinese insurance sector in the past few years.


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