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Life in Tianjin returning to normal, repairs underway one year after deadly blasts


08-12-2016 06:02 BJT

August 12th marks the first anniversary of the two massive explosions in Tianjin city. 165 people were killed, 798 were injured, and eight remain missing. Direct economic losses were around 1-point-1 billion US dollars. One year on from the accident, changes are happening and life is beginning to return to normal.

It was a day no one in Tianjin would forget. Two devastating explosions ripped through a warehouse in Tianjin Port, causing heavy casualties.

The closest residential area, known locally as The Harbor, was severely affected.

People living here were desperate.Wang was one of them.

"Our identification and personal property were all left in the apartment. We only had time to escape," A local resident said.

An official probe in Feburary attributed the cause of the blast to the ignition of hazardous materials, which were improperly and illegally stored at the site.

123 people, including company managers and government officials, face punishment.

Things have improved since, but cleanup operations remain slow due to difficulties.

A year has passed, since the massive blasts in Tianjin, and we're here at the closest a residential area to the main explosion site. The buildings have been renovated, and some families have returned.

Wang’s family returned in June, after local authorities assured the area was safe.

"The local authority periodically releases environmental monitoring data and provides water samples. They replaced the 30-centimetre-deep earth here with fresh soil. We were compensated with 16 percent of the price of our house, plus additional living expenses," A local resident said.

Around 300 families stayed on in the Harbor. 700 others signed buy-back agreements, and left. Similar offers were also made in six other communities close to the blast site. But there are still things to be done.

"The local government actively coped with the aftermath of the blast. But there are still problems. For example, soil replacement, and the repair of elevators and the basement are still works in progress," A local resident said.

Many residents are still scared by loud noises like thunder or fireworks. But life is returning to normal -- slowly but surely. The site of the explosion is heavily guarded, and no one is allowed near it. In time, it will be transformed into a memorial park to remember those who perished.

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