China / Society

One survivor found after Tianjin blasts, firefighter casualties 'grave'

(Xinhua/China Daily/ Updated: 2015-08-14 13:00

One survivor found after Tianjin blasts, firefighter casualties 'grave'

19-year-old firefighter, Zhou Ti, receives treatment in hospital.[Photo by Zhu Xingxin/]

TIANJIN - A survivor rescued at 7:05 am Friday at the Tianjin blasts site was identified as a firefighter. The search continues for those still missing, municipal authorities said.

The 19-year-old firefighter, named Zhou Ti, is from the Binhai New Area brigade of Tianjin's fire department, Gong Jiansheng, a local publicity official, said at a press conference on Friday.

The firefighter has been sent to the Tianjin Teda Hospital, which admitted about 150 injured people. He is being treated in the thoracic surgery department and is in stable condition now, Gong said.

He is injured in his chest, legs and head, but is conscious and shows vital signs of life, CCTV News reported.

Zhou asked after being found alive: "Chief, people in Ruihai still alive?" quoted a fireman as saying.

As of Thursday afternoon, 18 firefighters were still missing, the Ministry of Public Security said.

"Forces from all sides are searching for the missing firefighters," Tianjin's fire department head Zhou Tian (no relation with the rescued firefighter) said at a press conference.

As of 8 am Friday, firefighters had saved 32 people from the site. More than 1,020 firefighters and 140 fire engines are still battling the raging fire, Zhou said at the press conference.

"When the blasts occurred, several firefighters were working to put out the fire as backup forces just arrived. They were caught off guard, so the casualties are grave," he said.

Zhou said the rescue work has been hampered by the dangerous chemicals scattered at the site, which may trigger more explosions. Multiple minor explosions occurred many times during Thursday's rescue, which seriously threatened the safety of firefighters working at the site, Zhou added.

Damaged heavy containers at the site of the blasts have also caused more difficulties for the rescue, Zhou said.

A large area around the blast site has been affected, with scattered debris and glass and collapsed and damaged houses, Zhou said.

Zhou Tian said firefighters have been ordered to guard their own safety. All firefighters working at the scene of the blast should wear respirators. Those who enter the core area of the blast site are required to wear anti-chemical protective clothing, according to Zhou.

So far, three channels leading to the core areas of the blast site have been opened using forklifts and excavators. Firefighters are extinguishing the fire mainly using foamite and fire extinguishing agents while burying the dangerous chemicals with dry sand to prevent secondary disasters, Zhou added.

The enormous blasts, which occurred late Wednesday night, killed at least 50 people, including 17 firefighters. A total of 701 were injured, of whom 70 still in critical condition.

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