Top Tianjin official claims ‘inescapable responsibility’ for warehouse blasts

(From China Daily)

The top official of Tianjin said he blames himself for the deadly blasts near Tianjin port last week and has “inescapable responsibility” for the tragedy.

Huang Xingguo, acting Party chief and mayor of Tianjin, attends a press conference Wednesday

Huang Xingguo, acting Party chief and mayor of Tianjin, attends a press conference Wednesday

Huang Xingguo, mayor of Tianjin, attended the 10th press conference Wednesday after explosions originating from a dangerous-chemicals warehouse killed 114, injured hundreds and damaged the homes of more than 17,000 households.

“As the major leader of Tianjin, I have inescapable responsibility for the incident,” he said.

Huang said companies and individuals found to be involved in the incident, no matter who they are and what connections they have, will be investigated thoroughly and punished according to the law.

It is the first time a top civic is meeting the press, more than a week after the blasts occurred.

At the start of the press conference, Huang paid tribute to the deceased and said he is in deep grieving for the casualties and financial loss. He said he could not attend the previous conferences because he was busy directing the rescue work.

Huang said the government will continue to search for the missing people and speed up DNA testing. In addition, the government will make all-out efforts to save the injured and monitor the quality of water, air and soil.

Environmental pollution

He Shushan, vice mayor of Tianjin in charge of work safety, said the cause of the incident is being probed by the investigative group of the State Council.

He said almost 20,000 experts and anti-explosive soldiers have started identifying and transferring the remaining chemicals stored in the warehouse .

He said sodium cyanide scattered on the ground in the cordoned off area has been cleared, although there are still some remaining in containers.

“The remains will not pose risks to areas outside the cordoned-off area in rainfall. Even if it does pollute rain water, the environmental authorities have worked out a plan to clean up the area,” he said.

Wen Wurui, head of the Tianjin municipal bureau of environmental protection, said the incident has affected the environment to a certain extent, but it will not significantly influence human health.

Economic impact

Huang said the incident has affected at least 176 businesses, but economic losses have yet to be assessed.

“The incident has shattered the local economy and brought difficulties to local businesses,” he said.

Huang denied speculations that the incident will affect the development of Tianjin, or diminish its status as a major port city in Northern China.

He said there will not be an adverse impact on commodities exports, although the 176 businesses being affected during the blasts are trading companies.

“I understand that many companies are facing difficulties at the moment and they might think of moving out, but I believe that the difficulties will be temporary and risks can be solved,” he said. “Tianjin still has the opportunity to develop, and these companies have the vision.”

Compensation

Zong Guoying, vice mayor of Tianjin, said the government has set up a service center to coordinate the compensation for residential house damages.

He said the government has started to offer temporary resettlement fees before the damages can be evaluated and compensated. Third-party assessment institutions will be invited through government procurement to conduct the evaluation of the damages, he said.

Huang said the government will give the same compensation to relatives of fire-fighters hired on contact as offered to fire-fighters of the government.

A garden will be built at the accident site to remember them, he said.

 



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