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Premier Li: Blasts Must Bring Harsh Penalty

Premier Li Keqiang urged harsh punishment on Tuesday for those responsible for the deadly blast that left 165 people dead and eight others missing last month in Tianjin port.

"We should learn the lessons from the accident, and the blood should not be lost in vain," he told a meeting attended by officials in charge of the investigation of the accident.

Huge explosions occurred at a warehouse owned by Ruihai International Logistics on August 12, killing 165 people, including 99 firefighters and 11 police officers, and devastating the port area.

Investigators found that the company had violated rules and regulations for storing and transporting dangerous chemical substances, and it had operated for two years before getting a license from the government in June.

Li questioned why the company could be free from the supervision of multiple government departments for such a long period.

Those who are found to be corrupt or derelict in their duty must be punished with zero tolerance, Li said.

Environmental protection authorities should keep a close eye on the pollution of air, water and soil to ensure that the pollutants do not exceed standards, he said.

Li also urged the local government to properly handle the aftermath of the accident, mentioning that there are still a large number of injured people in hospital and that the homes of many families have been damaged.

The local government in Tianjin has offered compensation for the damaged homes.

On August 30, the Housing Management Department in the Tianjin Binhai New Area announced that damaged apartments at seven residential compounds could be sold to an association of state-owned property developers.

The price is 1.3 times higher than either the purchase price or the market value before the accident. The market value of the apartments, released on Monday morning, was calculated by Tianjin Fangda Real Estate Evaluation-a company chosen by the apartment owners.

Cui Xianfeng spent about 810,000 yuan ($127,000) three years ago on an apartment in Vanke Haigangcheng, which is located about 700 meters from the blasts. He can receive about 1.35 million yuan ($211,667) based on the evaluation, including 10,000 yuan ($1567.9) for damaged furniture.

"Since the subsidy given by the government for temporary housing after the accident was not very satisfactory, we were not very optimistic about the evaluation. However, the result didn't let me down," said Cui, 29. Each affected household was given 6,000 yuan ($940.74) to rent an apartment for three months after the blasts.

"A friend of my daughter, a 1-year-old boy, had his hearing impaired by the blasts," he said.

"I'm afraid no matter how much compensation they receive, it won't heal the pain of the child and the parents."

(China Daily  September 23, 2015)

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