• Tianjin officials slammed for blast response

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    BEIJING: Chinese state-run media on Monday lambasted officials in the port city of Tianjin for a lack of transparency over the massive explosions at an industrial site that killed at least 112 and devastated a vast area.

    The editorials and commentary pieces echoed frustrations voiced by Tianjin residents, victims’ relatives and netizens over the slow release of information in the aftermath of the August 12 explosions.

    Chinese authorities have moved to limit criticism of the handling of the blasts by suspending or shutting down dozens of websites and hundreds of social media accounts.

    Mainstream media — which in China are effectively controlled by the authorities — condemned local officials’ lack of transparency, saying it could reflect badly on the government.

    “During the first dozens of hours after the blasts, there was scant information offered by Tianjin authorities,” the Global Times tabloid said in an editorial.

    “Tianjin is not an exceptional case in terms of the inadequate disaster-response work,” the paper, which has close ties to the ruling Communist Party, wrote.

    “Making some efforts to respond to reporters should become routine if local governments encounter a major event in future.

    “A single slow reaction can lead to rumors running riot. And in turn, public confidence in the government will continue to fall.”

    The government-published China Daily, meanwhile, noted that “many questions… remain to be answered” over the blasts, which triggered a days-long fire and fears over potential toxic contamination from pollutants being stored at the blast site.

    “Not surprisingly, the lack of verified information has resulted in conspiracy theories emerging,” it wrote.

    AFP

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