China's authorities place rabbits, chickens near Tianjin blast site

Animals in cages are used to test the living conditions near the site of last week's blasts at Binhai new district in Tianjin on Aug 19, 2015.
Animals in cages are used to test the living conditions near the site of last week's blasts at Binhai new district in Tianjin on Aug 19, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese authorities placed rabbits, chickens and pigeons near the scene of last week's massive explosions at a warehouse in the port city of Tianjin, according to Reuters Pictures, in an apparent attempt to calm fears about toxic chemicals in the air and water.

The birds and animals, held in small, brightly coloured cages, survived spending two hours at the site of the blasts, local media reported.

City officials have repeatedly said contaminants found in the wake of the blasts, including deadly sodium cyanide, pose no risk to the public.

But concern about longer-term environmental degradation and the potential impact on human health has grown this week, particularly after the authorities confirmed that more than 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide were stored at the warehouse that blew up.

State media on Thursday showed pictures of thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores of a river about 6km from the blast site, though it was unclear whether there was any link to the explosions. The photos were widely circulated on Chinese social media, stoking public anxiety.

City officials have said they did not find dangerous levels of sodium cyanide in the river, and the fish died from an oxygen deficiency, not from poisoning.

Four new fires broke out at the site where two huge blasts killed 116 people last week, state media reported on Friday.