The death toll from a series of explosions that rocked a warehouse in Tianjin on August 12 has been raised to 129, Xinhua reported today, with 44 others still missing.
The dead have all been identified and include 76 firefighters, seven police officers and 46 other civilians. Among the missing are 28 firefighters, four police officers and 12 others.
The update follows a massive explosion that hit another chemical plant in Shandong on Friday evening. One person was killed and at least nine others injured in the most recent blast.
Lax safety regulations in China’s chemicals sector have long been a subject of concern. Over 4,000 people were killed in around 3,600 accidents involving hazardous materials between 2009 and 2014, Reuters reports, citing chemical facilities safety expert Zhao Laijun.
“China has clear laws,” Zhao said. “To maximize economic gain, some firms don’t follow the government’s laws.”
The two large explosions that ripped through the Ruihai International Logistics warehouse in Tianjin’s Binhai district were large enough to be picked up by satellites in space. The warehouse was found to be containing over 40 kinds of dangerous chemicals, including 700 tons of sodium cyanide, 800 tons of ammonium nitrate and 500 tons of potassium.
More than a week after the explosions, authorities have resorted to using small animals in cages to test the conditions for life around the blast zone.
Sixteen of the 73 soil samples collected from within a five-kilometer radius of the core blast area were reported to contain cyanide, but not levels exceeding national standard. The air and water outside the blast zone have proven to be safe as well, according to authorities.