CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Chinese official defends fire fighters after Tianjin blasts, experts focus on response

Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:24am EDT
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(Corrects name of meteorological organisation sent to the scene, removes erroneous reference to IAEA, paragraph 15)

* At least 12 firefighters among 54 killed

* Warehouse stored toxic chemicals and gas

* Official defends initial actions of fire fighters

* Experts say initial use of water could have made situation worse

* Many foreign firms sustain largely minor damage to facilities

By Adam Rose and Megha Rajagopalan

TIANJIN, China, Aug 14 (Reuters) - A senior Chinese official defended fire fighters who initially hosed water on a blaze in a warehouse in northeast China where volatile chemicals were stored, a response foreign experts said could have contributed to two huge blasts that killed 54 people.

More than a dozen firefighters were among those killed by the massive explosions at the busy port in Tianjin city on Wednesday night, state media said. About 700 people were injured, 71 seriously.   Continued...