“I heard the first explosion and everyone went outside, then there was a series of more explosions, windows shattered and a lot of people who were inside were hurt and came running out, bleeding”, said 27-year-old Huang Shiting, who lives close to the site. More than 70 people are reportedly in serious condition, and the numbers continue to rise.
Two fires were still burning at the blast site late on Thursday, Xinhua reported.
“When the blast occurred, several fire-fighters were working to put out the fire, and backup forces had just arrived”.
Search teams found a survivor on Friday. It said the firefighters were combing the neighbourhood to look for further injured residents.
In Britain, the Fire Brigades Union said it was saddened by the loss of the 12 firefighters.
Two explosions, 30 seconds apart, rocked the Binhai New Area of eastern Tianjin at around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday.
More than 36 hours after the blast, Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported 19-year-old fireman Zhou Ti had been discovered alive among the rubble.
The blasts struck a warehouse of hazardous chemicals at a port and were so large they were seen by satellites in space , sending shockwaves through apartment blocks a number of miles away.
They said company records were destroyed in the explosions and fire and the authorities had difficulty finding out exactly what was stored in the complex as firefighters attempted to tackle the blaze.
At one building, on the side facing the blast, every single window is blown out. Ltd., founded in 2011, which stores and distributes containers of “dangerous goods” at Tianjin’s port. Executives of the company are being interrogated by Chinese authorities.
Ships carrying oil and “hazardous products” were barred from the port Thursday, the Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration said on its official microblog.
“I am confident that rescue operations will be conducted effectively under your guidance and leadership, and the situation will be quickly brought under control”, he said.
The explosion – which could be felt miles away – was so powerful that cars melted and nearby homes collapsed.
“The warehouse should not have passed the environment assessment under normal circumstances”, the paper quoted an unnamed environmental expert as saying.