At least 12 firefighters lost their lives while trying to put out the blaze from two huge explosions in an industrial area, where toxic chemicals and gas were stored, in Tianjin, China. The dead firefighters included the casualty figure, which was said to be over 44. Reuters reported that at least 520 people were injured, more than 60 of them seriously. It was also said that four fires are still burning. The blazes were said to be so large to be seen by satellites in space.
The cause of the blasts was unknown but industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of breakneck economic growth.
President Xi Jinping demanded that authorities “make full effort to rescue and treat the injured and ensure the safety of people and their property”.
Xi said in a statement carried by official media that those responsible should be “severely handled”.
City officials had met recently with companies to discuss tightening safety standards on the handling of dangerous chemicals. The Tianjin Administration of Work Safety posted a notice about the meeting with companies at the port on its website a week ago.