Fires were still burning after dawn, with photographs on Chinese news websites showing what appeared to be several destroyed buildings as well as torched cars at a multi-storey auto park inside a logistics base at Tianjin Port. The port, one of the busiest in China, was operating normally, a port official said.
An explosion took place in China’s northern city of Tianjin late Wednesday, August 12, 2015.
At least 50 people were killed and more than 700 injured after what is believed to have been a shipment of explosives blew up, sending a fireball shooting into the night sky that was so large that tit could be seen from space.
The initial blast triggered secondary explosions, causing local tremors, Xinhua said.
Tianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, and the seventh-biggest in China.
Xinhua said 1,000 firefighters and more than 140 fire engines were struggling to contain a blaze in a warehouse that held “dangerous goods”.
Tianjin is about 120km (75 miles) east of Beijing on the Bohai Sea and is one of the country’s major ports.
New video shows thick, grey clouds of smoke spiraling upward from the explosion site where the warehouse of a logistics company once stood.
It is not known what caused the blasts, nor whether chemicals have leaked.
State broadcaster CCTV said that President Xi Jinping had urged “all-out efforts to rescue victims and extinguish the fire”.
Authorities were quick to cordon off the blast site to journalists, while Chinese citizens posting comments on Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging platform, complained of their posts about the blasts being deleted. The People’s Daily says that civilians and taxi drivers offered free rides to people who needed to get medical attention, and that many people in Tianjin, a city of more than 14 million, have lined up to donate blood.
It called for transparency over the disaster – but an online database of Tianjin companies reportedly became unavailable after the blast.
“They haven’t been clear on whether it’s safe to stay in the city”, said Chovanc, a 25-year-old American who has been living in China for two years.
A team from the global Atomic Energy Agency’s Beijing environmental emergency response centre, as well as 214 Chinese military nuclear and biochemical materials specialists, had gone to Tianjin, Xinhua said.
State-run CCTV said the two explosions had the force of 3 tons and 21 tons of TNT, shattering windows and knocking observers to the ground.
It identified the owner of the warehouse as Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai worldwide Logistics.
According to the company’s website, the facility covers about half a million square feet and includes several hazardous and risky goods warehouses. In addition, John Deere employees scheduled to travel to the area within the next week have been asked to postpone their trips. Deere and Company spokesman Ken Golden issued a statement saying that some workers at a Deere plant in Tianjin suffered minor injuries from shattered windows during Wednesday’s explosion.