Premier Li pays respects to firefighters lost in Tianjin blasts

Bowing to the photos of the deceased firefighters, Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday paid respects to those young men who lost their lives in two massive warehouse blasts in north China's port city of Tianjin that have killed 112.

"They are all heroes and deserve the respect of the whole society," said Li, while visiting a brigade of Tianjin fire department.

At least 21 firefighters have been killed after two huge explosions tore through a warehouse in Tianjin's Binhai New Area late Wednesday night, and 85 other firefighters remain unaccounted for.

Li said all the dead -- whether official firefighters or contract counterparts -- will enjoy the same posthumous honor and their families will be given the same compensation.

The premier also visited the firefighters and soldiers who are still racing against the clock to search for the missing people at the blast site, praising their valor and contributions.

"When people's lives are at risk, you go to the rescue without fear or hesitation and make sacrifices," Li said. "The Party and the government thank you."

He asked them to ensure their own safety in rescue work.

Li also led officials to stand in silent tribute to all the dead in the disaster before a meeting of the rescue headquarters.

The premier arrived in Tianjin Sunday afternoon.

His first stop was the quarantined area, where he oversaw rescue, search and cleaning operations. He urged continued search for the missing people and thorough elimination of dangerous remains of the exploded chemicals.

Li told the environment staff to keep monitoring the environment around the clock and release accurate, authoritative environment information as the public are highly concerned about the air, water and soil quality around the blast site.

Li visited the temporary relocation site and demanded considerate services for the displaced citizens.

At hospitals, he promised the wounded best medical resources. He also asked the medical staff to do their best to minimize the fatality and disability.

At the meeting on further rescue plan, Li ordered swift release of information concerning the explosions in order to let the public know the real picture in timely manner. No secondary accidents are allowed.

"The accident has incurred heavy casualties and taught us an extremely painful lesson," the premier said at the meeting.

The investigation team set up by the State Council, or China's cabinet, must find out the cause thoroughly and punish those with dereliction of duty severely, he said.

Li ordered a nationwide overhaul of work safety focusing on dangerous chemicals and inflammable materials.

Source: Xinhua