Death toll climbs to 123 in Chinese fires, explosions

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HONG KONG — The death toll from blasts that hit the the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has risen to 123, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported, citing information from a Sunday press conference.

Among the victims were 70 firefighters and seven police officers, Xinhua reported. Fifty people are still missing after the fatal blasts earlier this month, which were followed by fires.

The August 12 blasts occurred at a warehouse, where more than 700 tons of highly toxic substances, mainly sodium cyanide, were being stored.

The explosions affected a huge swath of the city: 17,000 homes damaged, more than 170 companies affected and 3,000 cars destroyed.

Three fires reported last week were at the core of the explosion site, while a fourth was at an automobile distribution center nearby and could have been caused by a burning fuel tank, Xinhua said.