Yuan Hai and his sister.
Born in September, 1997, a Sichuan native was the youngest firefighter to die in the massive Tianjin explosions, tragically, he hadn’t yet celebrated his 18th birthday.
After finding out that her brother Yuan Hai had lost his life in the blasts which ripped through Tianjin on the evening of August 12, his sister uploaded a series of pictures on to her Weibo account in his memory.
But still she says she has not yet found the heart to tell their mother about her brother’s tragic early death.
Yuan Hai’s family take photos with him before he leaves for Tianjin to become a firefighter.
Yuan Hai, who was originally from Zhongjiang county of Dengyang, Sichuan province, joined the forces at the Tianjin fire brigade in 2014.
The pictures were taken when families were seeing off would-be recruits in their hometown on September 18 of last year.
Yuan Hai’s sister captioned one of the pictures: “Why were you so cruel to leave me to take care of our parents alone? What we asked of you was to return home safe and sound. Please come back, come back… you’re so cruel that you let our parents see you off. You were not even 18 yet. Last year, when we saw you off to Tianjin, you were such a happy boy. It’s not even a year later, how can that be right?”
The post has been shared more than 300,000 times at the time of this writing, with a great number of netizens expressing their grief over the loss of the incredibly young firefighter.
At least 85 deaths have been confirmed after a blaze at a warehouse storing hazardous materials triggered a series of blasts at around 10:50 p.m. on August 12. An additional 721 people were injured, with 25 still in critical condition, according to a press conference held on Saturday morning.
According to Jeremy Koh of Channel NewsAsia, two days on, the firefighters have finally put out all the fires. But the cause of the explosions is still under speculation. Koh reports that the warehouse could have been storing dangerous and toxic chemicals, including calcium carbide. The firefighters who arrived at the scene might have made the problem worse by trying to fight the blaze with water, triggering a combustive reaction.
The fact that some of the firefighters were so young and that they were seen with no more protection than standard surgical masks has raised further questions.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via toutiao // Weibo]