WRAPUP 1-China defends initial response to chemical fires after port blasts

Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:03am EDT
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* At least 12 firefighters among 54 killed

* Warehouse stored toxic chemicals and gas

* Official defends initial action 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) - China defended on Friday fire fighters who initially hosed water on a blaze in a warehouse storing volatile chemicals, 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 explosions at the port in the northeastern city of Tianjin on Wednesday night, state media said.

About 700 people were injured, 71 of them seriously, yet another accident in a nation all too familiar with industrial disasters.   Continued...