China Sends Chemical Experts to Blast Site

China Sends Chemical Experts to Blast SiteChina Sends Chemical Experts to Blast Site

China sent a team of nuclear and chemical experts on the ground on Thursday to the northern port city of Tianjin, the scene of two massive explosions that have left at least 55 people dead.

A team of 217 chemical experts were testing the area for toxic gases, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that the death toll had climbed to 55, with 701 admitted to hospital, Al Jazeera reported.

Meanwhile, locals have expressed fears for their safety after reports there could be hundreds of tons of dangerous chemicals at the site.

The first explosion occurred around 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday at a warehouse in Tianjin’s Binhai New Area. Only seconds later, a second blast occurred.

Rescue teams are wearing protective clothing because of fears the site is contaminated with poisonous chemicals.

Officials in Tianjin said they did not yet know what materials were at the hazardous goods storage facility where the explosions happened, or the cause of the blast.

But the Beijing News reported earlier that according to manufacturers, at least 700 tons of sodium cyanide were at the site, along with other substances, and the poisonous chemical had been detected in sewage samples in the area.

Tianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume and the seventh largest in China, according to the World Shipping Council, moving more containers than the ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Los Angeles.