The Cyberspace Administration of China has shuttered 50 websites for spreading “rumors” on the number of deaths and casualties in the Tianjin explosions.
According to Xinhua, a state news outlet, the number of confirmed deaths stands at 112 with 95 still missing after the dangerous explosion that occurred last week in a chemical warehouse.
The Chinese cyberspace administration has closed down many media that have reported different and inaccurate versions of the events arguing that such ‘rumors’ were likely to “manufacture panic … resulting in adverse social panic.”
According to the administration, 18 websites have had their licenses revoked, 32 others have been suspended for a month and 360 social media accounts have been blocked indefinitely.
The state newspaper report about the suspensions and closures runs under the cheerful headline “Websites punished for spreading rumors about Tianjin blasts”.
China is not known to be enthusiastic on un-vetted bad news being made available to the public, so the word “rumors” has a tough negative implication.
For the time being, the formal line about the Tianjin tragedy, delivered by President Xi Jinping himself, is that they symbolize an awful breakdown of workplace safety.
Executives are also starting to imply that the warehouse kept more hazardous substances than it was permitted to store, a suggestion that corruption may have had a role in the event.
President Xi has long campaigned against bribery at all levels of the Chinese government.
People living within a two mile radius of the explosion zone have been evacuated following reports that hundreds of tons of the highly toxic chemical sodium cyanide were involved in the blast.
China’s National Supercomputer Center is approximately one mile from the scene of the incident.
The Tianhe-1 supercomputer was taken offline just after the blast. While it is still not clear if the supercomputer has resumed work, with the two mile radius requirement, it appears set to stay offline for some time.