Just before Midnight on Wednesday evening, giant explosions rocked the port city of Tianjin, China, levelling houses, killing at least 56 people, and injuring another 700. The Tianjin explosions were reportedly caused by a fire at a warehouse in the industrial district of Tianjin that specializes in storing and transporting hazardous materials.
Warning: The following video contains graphic language.
Though guidelines put in place in Tianjin in 2001 state that warehouses storing hazardous materials or chemicals need to be “at least 1km away from public buildings,” the closest residential block to the Tianjin industrial district is a mere 600 meters away, leading many to ask how this tragedy could happen, according to the People’s Daily, a local newspaper.
“People question why there are so many residential buildings near this storage place for dangerous goods. Why is this 1,000m safety restriction so difficult to follow?”
While houses and residential structures closest to the Tianjin explosions were destroyed, even homes on the other side of Tianjin shook with the force of the blasts.
Daniel Van Duren, an American who lives in Tianjin, was at the top of his 33-story apartment complex when the Tianjin explosions ripped through the city. Van Duren captured a video, which is quickly going viral, of the moment two apocalyptic-like blasts erupted in Tianjin. In the video, Van Duren can be heard commenting on what looks like a large fire, believing it was a gas station up in flames. He quickly realizes the truth when the first of two Tianjin explosions goes off, shaking the building, the video’s YouTube description explains.
“We were less than 1km from it on top of our 33 story apartment… It devastated our building along with many other… It was like watching a nuclear bomb go off in front of us!!”
The strength of the Tianjin blasts reportedly even gave Van Duren and his friend a sunburn.
While firefighters still struggle to contain the fires in the aftermath of the Tianjin explosion, residents who evacuated to nearby schools still do not know when they will be able to return to their homes, says Han Jin, a retired school teacher who lives in Tianjin.
“When will it be safe to come back? Is the air OK? For people like us who live within 2km of the blast site, how long do we have to wear these masks?”
Considering Tianjin authorities have openly admitted to having no idea what chemicals were involved in the explosions, it’s anyone’s guess at this point when the blast site and surrounding areas will be once again safe for the residents of Tianjin.
[Image Credit: Screen Grab/YouTube]