Major explosions in the Chinese city of Tianjin on Wednesday evening has grabbed the world’s attention for the past couple of days as news of its cause, casualties, and possible government negligence continues to unfold.
On Wednesday evening, Tianjin, a port city 72 miles southeast of Beijing, was rocked by thunderous explosions. CNN, citing Chinese officials, says one of the Tianjin explosions “was the equivalent of more than 20 tons of TNT.”
According to the BBC, the Tianjin explosions were so violent that they registered as a “seismic event” by United States Geological Survey and “alarmed” officials at the Chinese National Earthquake Network.
The Tianjin explosions were even seen in space. Wired mentioned that two Japanese satellites managed to capture images of the Tianjin explosions.
So far, over 50 people have died as a result of the Tianjin explosions, with over 700 reported injured according to an updated Guardian report. CNN reported that about 6,000 residents near the Tianjin explosions have been displaced. An unknown number of people are still missing since the Tianjin blasts.
The New York Times reports that Tianjin police say the explosion occurred at a “hazardous cargo” warehouse and that a “top official” of the company that owns the warehouse, Rui Hai International Logistics, has been apprehended “for questioning.”
The tragic Tianjin explosions seem to be exposing major issues in safety regulations and their implementation in China, with government officials seemingly not ready to release all of the available information to the public.
“Government officials, acutely aware of concerns over the fire, have sought to suppress unauthorized information,” another New York Times article read.
During a press conference on the Tianjin explosions, Chinese officials “seemed unprepared for the tough questions […] including why hazardous chemicals had been stockpiled so near populated areas.” These tough questions seem to have forced the officials to wrap up the Tianjin conference quickly without exposing any important information.
One piece of information on the Tianjin explosions that has been exposed recently is that the chemical warehouse’s location defied Chinese regulations for hazardous sites. The nearest residential apartment building to the warehouse was 2,000 feet away, while Chinese regulations specify that residential buildings shouldn’t be built less than 3,200 feet away from hazardous areas.
AlJazeera America reports that more than 200 chemical and nuclear experts from the Chinese military have been sent to the Tianjin blast site, yet Chinese officials still do not know exactly what chemicals were stored at the warehouse.
People near the Tianjin blast site have begun to relocate from the area due to health and contamination concerns.
[Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images]