Two deadly blasts shook a Chinese port in the city of Tiajin yesterday with a fierceness that was captured by weather satellites orbiting the earth. At approximately 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, a fire erupted at a warehouse filled with “dangerous chemicals” and eventually spread until the explosions occurred.
The port city is home to over 14 million residents and thus far, Chinese government have reported over 700 persons being admitted to hospital with severe injuries while the death toll has risen. Initial reports stated that 17 persons were killed, but as the morning light came to the city, the number is far more alarming. Over 50 persons have been killed as a result of the blast, including at least 12 of the more than 1,000 firefighters fighting the blaze. The death toll is still expected to rise.
The explosion at the warehouse in the Tianjin Port International Logistics Centre has caused citywide devastation, spanning around 20,000 square metres of mass destruction. The China Earthquake Administration’s seismograph registered the shock waves as causing two massive earthquakes, the biggest tremor of which was registered at a of magnitude 2.9. Several industrial zones were damaged, along with multiple residential areas.
CBS News’ on-site coverage confirmed that, to date, there seems to be no immediate sign of toxic chemicals present in the air. Nonetheless, the smoke from the blast site can still be seen over 12 hours after the initial blast, and has an added red tint, which is presumed to be an effect caused by the chemicals present in the Tiajin warehouse. The government has taken some necessary safety precautions and has suspended firefighting in an effort to assess the chemical properties that were present in the warehouses.
Windows in buildings have been shattered, cars have been thrown through the air as if they were toys, and walls in a 2-km radius around the site have even been knocked down completely. Residents and family members have taken to the streets or congregated at the hospitals in search of loved ones.
At Tianjin’s Teda hospital, which is a few blocks from the disaster scene, the influx of patients became so great that an outdoor field hospital was set up to accommodate the injured. Local schools have also been set up as shelters for the victims. It is estimated that over 6,000 people will be forced from their homes by nightfall because of the blasts.
President Xi Jinping has issued formal statements that the authorities should “make full effort to rescue and treat the injured and ensure the safety of people and their property.” The Chinese president is also calling for the severe punishment of those responsible. The blast comes on the heels of city official meetings with companies about tightening safety standards in the handling of dangerous chemicals. About a week ago, the Tianjin Administration of Work Safety actually posted a notice on its website regarding the meetings with port companies.
The cause of the blast is still unknown, but speculation regarding mishandling of the dangerous chemicals is thought to be the cause. If this proves to be true, the poor safety standards of Ruihai Logistics will be one in a series of tragic accidents that has been costing the Chinese people their lives. It was only July that an explosion at a fireworks warehouse killed 15 people, and dozens died last year due to a blast at a Shanghai car parts factory.
Presently, it is reported that at least one of the relevant persons in the company have been detained regarding the deadly blasts.
[Photos Courtesy of ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images]