采访/易如 编辑/李谦 后制/钟元
Truth of Tianjin Deadly Mall Fire Gradually Revealed
After a mall fire in Ji county, Tianjin, the authorities
restricted local media’s reporting.
In addition, they attempted to block other media and publics’
questions to the accident.
Local authorities warned citizens that no discussion
was allowed, otherwise they would be arrested.
However, more information about the fire was still circulated
online by insiders.
Originally official media claimed, there were only 50
customers in the mall at that time.
This aroused netizens’ angry reactions.
On July 7th, xinhuanet.com Tianjin channel cited Wang Fang,
deputy manager of the mall saying that
the five-story department store has 103 counters
with 70 retail staff.
There were 120 salespeople and other staff and
only a few customers in the mall when the fire took place.
Wang Fang claimed that she was on the fifth floor,
with no more than 20 people there.
She said there were only about 50 customers in total
in the whole mall at the time.
However, her words were questioned by the public.
Media reported previously that the mall was holding a big
promotion event on that day and many customers were there.
It seems that there were a few hundred people locked inside
mall when the fire broke out.
Tianjin resident Mr. Wang: “Definitely many people were
inside the mall.
If it was not at a weekend without sales promotion,
there wouldn’t be so many people in the mall.
But it was on Saturday with sales on, therefore it attracted
many customers. After all this is the largest mall in Ji County.”
On June 30th, Laide Shopping Center in Ji County, Tianjin
caught fire which lasted a few hours.
The five-story building was burnt down. On July 5th, Tianjin
official micro-blog announced that 10 people died with 16 injured in the accident.
Bodies of the dead were collected by their families.
However, this death toll was questioned by the public.
Insiders revealed that far more than 10 died in the accident,
at least in the hundreds of people killed by the fire.
Some also said that the confirmed death toll was 378.
A partial list of the dead was publicized by some netizens.
Mr. Li, a propaganda manager from Ji County answered NTD
by repeating the same official statements in an interview.
He also claimed that no one was missing.
When he was asked about authorities’ restriction on a truthful
report, he said he was unclear about it.
Shenzhen scholar, Zhu Jianguo pointed out that in China,
power is above the law,
and only state media had a chance to speak for its purpose.
There is no freedom of the media.
Zhu Jianguo: “State media’s rule is to report good news only,
talking big of the achievements and covering up the truth.
This is the first one of the rules. Secondly, the 18th Congress
High level officials are attempting to enter Zhongnanhai.
Their followers also hope to be promoted.
Therefore they will cover up the death toll because they
share the same interests.”
After the fire, media in Tianjin were silenced and journalists
from non-state media were banned from interviewing.
Recently, the internet was also cut off in Ji County.
An insider revealed that a staff member from the crematorium
as detained after he said “200 dead bodies were delivered there on that day”.
All staff of Ji county hospital involved in the rescue
were also told to keep silent.
The victims’ families received 610,000 Yuan compensation
as the cost of keeping silent, or they will be suppressed.
Civilians were warned that any discussion of fire or posting
any relevant messages online will get them arrested.
Ms. Zhao, Tianjin resident says: ”Don’t ask me about the
accident. I know nothing about it.
I have been notified from meetings that whoever
mentions the fire in an interview would be arrested.”
However, the authority’s suppressions have induced
more rage from civilians.
On July 6th, tens of thousands of city residents demonstrated
on the streets, to mourn the dead from the fire.
They also called for an investigation into the real facts behind
At the same time, more details of the truth are being
According to a report by dajiyuan.com, some witness
the fire was caused by an overloaded outdoor air-conditioner
compressor located at the south of Laide Shopping Center.
Although it is 10 minutes walk between the shopping center
and the county fire station, fire-engines took over 25 minutes to arrive after being called.
What’s more, the fire brigade wasn’t equipped with enough
hydraulic pressure with no aerial ladders or air cushions.
Consequently, the firefighters did nothing during the most
important 30 minutes window for rescue.
They stood and watched the fire devouring the whole building.
Another shocking fact has also been revealed. Although many
lives were threatened during the fire by being stuck in the building,
the shopping center manager closed the exits on one side
to prevent commodities from being stolen,
which blocked access for many victims escaping the fire.