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Friday, August 14, 2015, 09:38

Locals put damaged lives back together

By Zhao Huanxin in Tianjin
Locals put damaged lives back together
An injured man w alks out of a hospital that was treating victims of the explosion. (Ng Hanguan / AP)

Chen Yumei finally received the call she had been waiting for: Her 20-year-old son had recovered consciousness after being injured during the devastating explosions that shook Tianjin late Wednesday night.

The 45-year-old said two blasts several minutes apart blew away the iron door of her apartment on the 19th floor of her building, causing a bedroom cabinet to fall on her son's head.

Rescuers took him to Tianjin Port Hospital, but it was overflowing with injured people, so she managed to send him to Huanhu Hospital downtown.

"Luckily, he is not in critical condition now. He has regained consciousness but sustained temporary memory loss," Chen said on Thursday afternoon.

Chen and her husband run a decoration company. The blasts destroyed their two cars, a BMW and a Toyota.

"Life will continue," Chen's husband said. "The accident hasn't affected the operation of my company."

Chen said she moved to the building two months ago. She added, however, that she had never heard about the existence of such dangerous warehouses nearby.

On Thursday afternoon, she watched as smoke continued to billow from warehouses at Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics Co, Ltd, only 500meters from her home.

Residents of the port city will have to wait until information is made public about the proximity of potentially perilous plants and residential communities.

At the first news conference held on Thursday afternoon, Tianjin officials did not answer questions regarding how far hazardous chemicals or flammables are from residential quarters.

"Companies and warehouses of dangerous chemicals are very far away from communities," Zhang Yong, head of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, said vaguely when pressed by reporters on Thursday.

Officials attending the news conference also declined to say how the city would handle the damage to the enterprises in the Binhai New Area, saying the priority at the moment is human safety.

Police cordoned off all roads leading to the blast site.

Several residents tried to return to their apartments to check the safety of their belongings on Thursday evening. A man in his mid-40s, who declined to identify himself, said he spent a sleepless night at a hotel. He paid about 400 yuan ($65), twice the price on normal days, to buy a lock from a vendor at the entrance of his residence.

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