Chinese state media have reported that the series of heavy explosions that occurred late on Wednesday, have devastated the city of Tianjin. As a result, many of the city’s residents are currently attempting to recover from a huge loss of human life and a mass destruction properties.
The BBC quoted a state-run media as saying that the death toll from the blast reached 50 on Thursday afternoon, and that more than 700 have been injured. Hospitals are currently struggling to cope with the number of casualties.
Many without injuries, are said to be responding to calls to voluntarily donate blood and save the lives of those in critical conditions.
The Tianjin town is a major port and industrial area to the south-east of the capital, Beijing. It is estimated to be home to some 15 million people. It is said, buildings within a 2km radius had windows blown out, and office blocks were completely destroyed.
The first blast is said to have occurred at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals, burning many cars and destroying tower blocks. The firefighting division of the Chinese Public Security Ministry told the state-run news agency Xinhua, that firefighters were first called to the scene for a fire outbreak.
The division said a heavy explosion went off after firefighters arrived. The second blast, more heavy than the first, was shortly followed by a series of smaller ones. It has been confirmed that twelve firefighters are among the dead and 36 others are still missing.
The Chinese Earthquake Networks Centre said the magnitude of the first explosion was the equivalent of detonating three tonnes of Trinitrotoluene, while the second was equivalent to 21 tonnes of the chemical compound.
However, another Chinese media source has reported that the blasts happened after a shipment of explosives detonated in the warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics, a company that specializes in handling dangerous and toxic chemicals.
The BBC reported that the Chinese Central Television has said at least one person from Ruihai Logistics has been detained by authorities for questioning.
Eyewitnesses who were lucky enough to escape the disaster, told horrifying stories: “I saw fire burning and then: Boom! There was an explosion. My first reaction was to run as fast as I could and get down on the ground to save my life. When I escaped, I had blood all over me,” Wu Dejun, a hairstylist in the blast area told the Reuters News Agency.
“I rolled off the bed after the first shockwave hit, so I scrambled to run for my life. When I reach downstairs the second blast happened. It’s as if the sky collapsed. In a blink of an eye, the roof fell,” a resident named Dan Agio said.
“It was like what we were told a nuclear bomb would be like. I’ve never even thought I’d see such a thing. It was terrifying, but also beautiful,” truck driver, Zhao Zhencheng told the Associated Press News Agency.
The Chinese media are said to have heavily criticized officials for allowing a warehouse containing dangerous chemicals to be sited near a main road, and house complexes with office blocks.
Xinhua also quoted the China President, Xi Jinping, as saying that a thorough investigation into what happened and “transparent information disclosure to the public” will be made available after officials have brought the situation under control.
According to the US Geological Survey Monitoring Unit in Beijing, it also felt the impact of the blasts. The distance between the capital and Tianjin, is about 160km.
The head of the city’s environmental protection unit, Wen Wurui, told media outlets that pollution levels are being monitored by experts.
“It would be harmful if you breathe in this toxic air for a long time. But at present, it has not exceeded the standard too much based on our monitoring,” he said.
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