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    Aug 19, 2015

    3,000 tonnes of chemicals at Tianjin blast site


    AT LEAST 3,000 tonnes of highly hazardous chemicals were confirmed to have been stored at the warehouse blown up in giant explosions last week in the Chinese city of Tianjin, while 10 people have been arrested over the disaster, including the son of a former local police chief.

    According to Major-General Niu Yueguang, deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security, there were 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate and 500 tonnes of potassium nitrate among the 40 kinds of poisonous chemicals detected at the warehouse of Ruihai Logistics company, reported China Daily.

    However, other than the sodium cynaide, it is not clear from the Chinese media reports whether the other chemicals are still present in the area.

    The amount of sodium cynaide found exceeded by more than tenfold what Ruihai was allowed to store at any one time, reported Chinese news website Sina.

    Stored in cans of 50kg each, the sodium cyanide was supposed to be exported, said a director from Chengxin Company, which produced the chemical.

    Meanwhile, according to Chinese financial magazine Caijing, the actual shareholders of Ruihai have been identified, and they include Dong Shexuan, a son of a former head of Tianjin port's public security bureau who died last year.

    Mr Dong's name is not in the company's business registry, which named two other people, who turned out to be proxies for Yu Xuewei, the head of Ruihai, and Mr Dong.

    Mr Yu was once the No. 2 man of the Tianjin branch of Sinochem, one of China's state-owned oil production companies, reported Sina.

    Ruihai was licensed to handle dangerous chemicals at the time of the blasts, but suspicions have been raised over its certificates.

    Ten people, including Mr Yu and Mr Dong, were detained last Thursday, the official People's Daily reported yesterday.

    Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, was also reported to be under investigation for "suspected severe violation of discipline and the law", the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption agency said.

    It was not immediately clear whether there was any direct connection between the investigation into Mr Yang and the Tianjin blasts.

    The 61-year-old worked in Tianjin for 18 years and rose to be one of its vice-mayors before taking office at the work safety agency in 2012.

    At ceremonies in Tianjin, officials bowed their heads to commemorate the dead, who numbered 114 as of yesterday, with 57 people still missing and 31 bodies not yet identified.