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China: officials backtrack over evacuation reports

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China: officials backtrack over evacuation reports
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Chinese officials have denied ordering the evacuation of residents from the area surrounding the site of a huge chemical explosion.

I asked them what was going on and they said it's still dangerous inside, you can't go near

The statement is a direct contradiction to state media reports.

There were fears of a cloud of toxic particles emanating from the site in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin.

One man was on his way back from shopping when he had to get out of his car. “They had blocked the road,” he said, “I asked them what was going on and they said it’s still dangerous inside, you can’t go near.”

Last Wednesday’s explosion had the force of 24 tonnes of TNT and was visible from space.

There are continuing reports of further, smaller blasts.

Officials have confirmed the highly toxic chemical sodium cyanide
was stored in the warehouse. It can be fatal when ingested or inhaled.

Locals are being advised to wear long trousers and face masks but the atmosphere is calm:

The human cost

At least 104 people are known to have died, including 21 firefighters.

More than 700 people were injured in the explosion and its immediate aftermath. 33 are in a critical condition.

More than 6000 have been displaced.