BEIJING, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the shores of Tianjin just eight days after a string of explosions in an industrial warehouse killed at least 114 people and injured hundreds.
Photos of the dead sticklebacks were posted on Chinese social media sites on Thursday, raising public fears of a chemical leak, The Guardian reported.
Chinese authorities are denying any connection between the dead fish and the industrial disaster that has led to public protests, as well as the official censorship of 50 Chinese websites covering the blasts.
In the photos, a vast number of dead fish were stranded on the banks of the Haihe River, about four miles from the site of the deadly explosion, state newspaper China Daily reported.
Residents said they were worried that the toxic chemical sodium cyanide was contaminating the waters around the city, but local officials said they found no toxic levels of cyanide in the water, TIME reported.
Deng Xiaowen, director of the Tianjin Environmental Monitoring Center, said it was not surprising to see large quantities of dead fish in the summer.
"When the temperature rises, oxygen will evaporate and fish may die of hypoxia," Deng told reporters.
But authorities said they are closely monitoring other sites, and that some said they have found eight out of 42 water-quality monitoring sites were detecting excessive levels of cyanide, The Guardian reported.
One military official said the stickleback or tiddler is a fish that is "very sensitive to the environment."
Tianjin is China's fourth-largest city and the world's 10th-largest port.