Rescuers work to clear China blast site of chemicals before rain falls

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China Blasts: Deaths Rise to 112

TIANJIN, CHINA (Reuters) -- Chinese soldiers and rescue workers in gas masks and hazard suits searched for toxic materials in China's port of Tianjin on Sunday as Premier Li Keqiang arrived to offer condolences, days after explosions flattened part of a national development zone.

The goal is to clear the chemicals before any rain falls, which could create further toxic gas.

The death toll rose to 112 from Wednesday's disaster, which sent massive yellow and orange fireballs into the sky, hurled burning debris across a vast industrial area, crumpled cars and shipping containers, burnt out buildings and shattered windows of nearby apartments.

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Rescuers work to clear China blast site of chemicals before rain falls
Smoke continues to billow from behind rows of burnt out Volkswagen cars the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescuers work at the site of the explosions in Tianjin on August 14, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Shipping containers sit piled up next to a badly damaged building on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, a man walks through the site of an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality. Rescuers have pulled a survivor from an industrial zone about 32 hours after it was devastated by huge blasts in China’s Tianjin port. Meanwhile, authorities are moving gingerly forward in dealing with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A woman organizes lists of missing people at a refugee center for residents unable to return their homes devastated by the shockwave of Wednesday's explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Rescuers pulled out a firefighter trapped for 32 hours after responding to a fire and huge explosions in the Chinese port city as authorities dealt Friday with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man (C) surveys the damage on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Debris litters an empty street adjacent to the site the second morning after where a series of explosions hit a chemical warehouse in the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Burnt out Volkswagen cars are pictured amongst the damage on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
CORRECTION Rescuers (C) work at the site of an explosion in Tianjin on August 14, 2015. Chinese authorities struggled to extinguish fires and identify dangerous chemicals at a devastated industrial site, two days after giant explosions killed dozens and left residents in fear of being cloaked in a toxic cloud. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A nurse tends to a man at a hospital receiving victims of Wednesday's massive explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Rescuers pulled out a firefighter trapped for 32 hours after responding to a fire and huge explosions in the Chinese port city as authorities dealt Friday with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, a man walks past the charred remains of new cars at a parking lot near the site of an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality. Rescuers have pulled a survivor from an industrial zone about 32 hours after it was devastated by huge blasts in China’s Tianjin port. Meanwhile, authorities are moving gingerly forward in dealing with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
In this combination of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, images taken from video provided by Dan Van Duren a warehouse explodes in Tianjin, China, as filmed from a nearby residential building. Tianjin is the world's 10th largest port. (Dan Van Duren via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this combination of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, images taken from video provided by Dan Van Duren a warehouse explodes in Tianjin, China, as filmed from a nearby residential building. Tianjin is the world's 10th largest port. (Dan Van Duren via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions at a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) (EDITORS NOTE: Image is highest resolution available.) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 12, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A woman recieves treatment at Teda Hospital following the explosions of a warehouse on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Construction workers nearby the spot of Wednesday explosions evacuate a place on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
An injured worker (L) walks out with colleagues from the area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rows of burnt out Volkswagen cars are seen near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) People stay at a primary school set as the emergency evacuation after the Wednesday explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
An injured man walks out with other residents from an area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A child sleeps on the playground at a primary school set as the emergency evacuation after the Wednesday explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A damaged warehouse is seen at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. A series of enormous explosions at an industrial area in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 44 people and injured hundreds, state media reported August 13, unleashing a fireball that ripped through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A residential building nearby the explosions are damaged on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A man takes a photo near a burnt drum that residents said flew from a nearby explosion seen in the background in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Rows of cars are burnt following the explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) (EDITORS NOTE: Image is highest resolution available.) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 12, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Flames rise as a banner in the background reads 'no illegal operations' at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames rise next to a damaged building at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames rise next to damaged buildings at the site of an explosion in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Cars are burnt in the debris following the explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Two men look at broken windows in a building near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Damaged containers lie in a canal as smoke billows from the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wears a mask as he visits an area damaged by an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Two women sleep on the road outside a damaged residential building near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. E normous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Construction workers nearby the spot of Wednesday explosions evacuate a place on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A man with his wounds bandaged eats a bun in a hospital receiving victims of an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions in the warehouse district sent up massive fireballs that turned the night sky into day in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials and witnesses said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man takes photos of damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, northern China, on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 13 people, state media reported on August 13, as witnesses described a fireball produced by the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows behind rows of burnt out cars at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Fires burn at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men walk past damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man walks out of a hospital catering to victims of an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An injuried man stands by an ambulance outside a hospital following a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured survivor is brought to a hospital following an explosion in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A hospital worker and a resident push what appears to be a lifeless body into a hospital in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man crying about the death of his son collapses outside a hospital receiving victims of explosions in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Security guards and a resident push what appears to be a lifeless body into a hospital in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An official wearing a mask stands by a police car at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The burnt wreckage of a car is seen as flames rise in the background at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE This photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. At least 50 people were wounded on August 12 by a huge explosion of inflammable material stored in a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, state media reported. The official Xinhua news agency said the blast happened at around 11:30 pm (1630 GMT), when a deafening bang was heard and plumes of flame lit up the night sky, scattering dust dozens of metres into the air. AFP PHOTO -- CHINA OUT -- (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE This photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. At least 50 people were wounded on August 12 by a huge explosion of inflammable material stored in a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, state media reported. The official Xinhua news agency said the blast happened at around 11:30 pm (1630 GMT), when a deafening bang was heard and plumes of flame lit up the night sky, scattering dust dozens of metres into the air. AFP PHOTO -- CHINA OUT -- (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency smoke and fire rises after an explosion in the Binhai New Area in north China's Tianjin Municipality on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (Yue Yuewei/Xinhua via AP) 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency smoke and fire erupt into the night sky after an explosion in the Binhai New Area in north China's Tianjin Municipality on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday with large numbers of people reported injured. (Yue Yuewei/Xinhua via AP) 

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Tianjin Binhai New Area exploded. suspected to be a gas station http://t.co/ko7cEsCGmO
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The number of missing rose to 95, most of them fire fighters, state media said, suggesting the toll would rise significantly. More than 720 people remained in hospital.

Officials acknowledged the presence of toxins but said they posed no risk to people outside a two-km evacuation zone surrounding the blast area.

"I can responsibly say that there will be no secondary damage to the people," Shi Luze, the chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army's Beijing Military Region, told reporters, referring to people outside the zone.

Shi confirmed the presence of more than 100 tons of deadly sodium cyanide, stored at two separate sites. He said workers were trying to clear the area of chemicals before possible rain showers, which could create toxic gas.

Fire crews were criticized for using water to douse flames in the initial fire, which may have contributed to the blasts, given the volatile nature of the chemicals involved.

Greenpeace said tests around the blast site showed that water supplies were not severely contaminated with cyanide, but that they did not "disprove the presence of other hazardous chemicals in the water".

"Greenpeace reiterates its call for authorities to implement a comprehensive survey of hazardous chemicals currently present in air and water supplies and make public all information," it said.

In an earlier statement, the environmental organization urged the government to establish a five-km (three-mile) evacuation zone.

China evacuated residents who had taken refuge in a school near the site of the blasts on Saturday after a change in wind direction prompted fears that toxic chemical particles could be blown inland.

It was not clear from media reports how many people were evacuated, but the order came as a fire broke out again that day at the blast site, a warehouse specially designed to store dangerous chemicals, according to Xinhua.

Some 6,300 people have been displaced by the blasts. Shockwaves were felt by residents in apartment blocks kilometers away in the city of 15 million people.

China's top prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, opened an investigation into the warehouse explosions, Xinhua reported, and "will look into possible illegal acts, such as abuse of power or dereliction of duty and deal with those acts which may constitute crimes".

About 100 people from a residential area near the blast site protested outside a hotel where a government press briefing was held, angry that dangerous chemicals had been stored near their homes.

"I'm very worried that these dangerous chemicals will harm my health," said Zhang Yinbao, who works in the chemical industry and whose apartment building is only 800 meters from the blast site.

For a warehouse the size of the one that exploded, that's closer to a residential area than allowed under laws that deal with the storage of dangerous materials, according to state media reports.

"From a legal perspective it's unreasonable that dangerous chemicals would be so close," Zhang said, calling for a thorough investigation and compensation.

Emotional family members of missing fire fighters - 85 of the 95 people missing - also protested, marching to district government offices where they scuffled with police before being dispersed.

Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of fast growth. A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago.

See more of the blast in this raw video:

Witness Captures Massive China Explosions

China evacuated residents who had taken refuge in a school near the site of the blasts on Saturday after a change in wind direction prompted fears that toxic chemical particles could be blown inland.

It was not clear from media reports how many people were evacuated, but the order came as a fire broke out again that day at the blast site, a warehouse specially designed to store dangerous chemicals, according to Xinhua.

Some 6,300 people have been displaced by the blasts. Shockwaves were felt by residents in apartment blocks kilometers away in the city of 15 million people.

About 100 people from a residential area near the blast site protested outside a hotel where a government press briefing was held, angry that dangerous chemicals had been stored near their homes.

"I'm very worried that these dangerous chemicals will harm my health," said Zhang Yinbao, who works in the chemical industry and whose apartment building is only 800 meters from the blast site.

For a warehouse the size of the one that exploded, that's closer to a residential area than allowed under laws that deal with the storage of dangerous materials, according to state media reports.

"From a legal perspective it's unreasonable that dangerous chemicals would be so close," Zhang said, calling for a thorough investigation and compensation.

Emotional family members of missing fire fighters - 85 of the 95 people missing - also protested, marching to district government offices where they scuffled with police, desperate for answers, before being dispersed.

Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of fast growth. A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago.

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