Korean firms suffer multi-billion losses in blasts

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Korean firms suffer multi-billion losses in blasts

Korean corporations may have suffered hundreds of billions of won in damages in the deadly explosions in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

About 4,000 Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors automobiles with an estimated retail value of 160 billion won ($136.3 million) were destroyed in the explosions. Hyundai said the damaged cars will be covered by insurance.

Renault SA also saw 1,500 of its cars, worth around 21.8 billion won, damaged, and Volkswagen lost about 2,750 cars worth 100 billion won.

Many multinational companies operate from the Binhai District where the explosions occurred.

About 100 major Korean corporations, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem and Kumho Tire, have operations there.

Roughly 4,500 multinational companies, including Motorola, Coca-Cola and Airbus also have a presence in the district, and their damages are expected to be valued at trillions of won.

The damage from the blasts will cause major logistical problems as Tianjin is one of China’s major automobile shipping ports and a gateway to the northern parts of the country.

The tragedy could also deal more blows to the Chinese economy that is already struggling with slowing growth and exports.

As of early Friday, the explosions claimed the lives of 50 people, including 17 firefighters. About 700 injured people were being treated at hospitals.

A team of 214 specialists in nuclear and biochemical materials arrived in the city on Thursday. The Chinese government declined to elaborate on why the specialists were called in.

A CCTV reporter who was permitted to go near the site said, “I stood near the scene of the accident for three minutes and my skin felt itchy and painful.”

BY CHOI HYUNG-KYU [park.jungyoun@joongang.co.kr]
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