Editorial: Efficiency, transparency needed for rescue work after Tianjin blasts

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-13 15:34:51

Tianjin Port and the Binhai New Development Zone have undergone a terrifying night which has put the whole country through an astounding and saddening morning. The series of deadly explosions around the warehouse of Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd were amazingly powerful. This has given us a rare and unforgettable shock.

We are now aware of how unsafe dangerous goods really can be. In seemingly normal and busy modern areas or work zones, there may be explosives equivalent to dozens of tons of TNT nearby that could explode after a simple error and produce massive casualties. Modernization aims not only to promote prosperity, but curb such potential destructive power. While security has to be always emphasized at a national level, units close to such dangers need to shoulder their huge social responsibilities.

We don't yet know the full death toll from the explosions. But judging from the video clips available, it is unlikely there will be any survivors within a certain radius of the explosions. The majority of people in this area were firefighters and other rescuers. Initial reports showed that the people killed and missing were mostly firefighters. The accident happened late at night with few people at the scene, but those brave firefighters had to rush to the fire. Their deaths suggest what a great and solemn profession firefighting is, and we believe everyone has already thanked them from the bottom of their hearts.  

One of the biggest dangers facing firefighters is the threat of an explosion as they are fighting a fire, but there are enormous uncertainties in assessing whether explosions or other powerful secondary disasters will happen. In the course of their duty these firefighters are indeed risking their lives. 

The emergency response was swift, and firefighters are working to get the blaze under control. Tianjin authorities are taking effective measures and answering most questions the public has raised, such as whether the air around the blast site is safe. There is still a lot of information which cannot be confirmed, such as the number of casualties and the cause of the explosion.

At the start of the incident, the public directed major complaints and accusations toward the Tianjin government and media for the slow and inadequate reporting of the explosion. For example, Tianjin TV was still broadcasting Korean soap operas 10 hours after the incident. Such chaos is unavoidable at the beginning of a sudden crisis. The Tianjin government must take critical feedback and ensure it can release accurate and timely information. The idea that they wanted to tone down the reporting and even cover it up must be eliminated.

Despite these doubts and criticisms, generally speaking, the government has dealt with the crisis efficiently and in a transparent manner. Up till this afternoon, the fire is still burning, and the priority should be rescuing the injured and extinguishing the blaze as soon as possible. Now the whole incident has been put under the scrutiny of the media, and any further information will be given to the public through government and media channels. The public's right to know needs to be defended and reinforced while the government deals with the disaster. The public can have a better understanding about what kinds of demands for information at the beginning of a disaster are appropriate, and what information still needs time to be published. Once the government and the public can reach an agreement on this, controversies will be greatly reduced.

Currently, Tianjin and the rescue workers need our support and encouragement. This should be the top concern at this critical moment.

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