Update (via Bernama): TIANJIN EXPLOSIONS KILL AT LEAST 42, INJURE OVER 400
Two powerful explosions at a "dangerous materials” warehouse jolted China's northeastern Tianjin on Wednesday night, leaving at least 42 people dead, including nine firefighters, and over 400 wounded.
The incident happened before midnight on Thursday; netizens on China-Twitter such as Weibo posted images of the blasts which resembled a huge mushroom cloud.
More than 1000 firefighters and 143 fire engines were dispatched to the scene since last night and massive rescue efforts were underway, the Tianjin Fire Department said on its official Weibo account.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an all-out effort to save the injured while Premier Li Keqiang vowed a thorough investigation and open and transparent information disclosure to the public, Xinhua news agency reported.
The official Xinhua News agency says 32 people remain in critical condition and 283 others have been hospitalized following the explosions late Wednesday.
In all, more than 400 people have been injured.
The Beijing News newspaper says on its website that nine firefighters are among the 17 dead.
As is customary during disasters, Chinese authorities are trying to keep a tight control over information.Police are keeping journalists and bystanders away with a cordon as many as a few kilometers (miles) from the site.
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The explosion could be seen from space...
As AP reports,
Huge explosions at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 17 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and witnesses said Thursday.
China's state broadcaster, CCTV, said that at least 17 people were killed and that 32 were in critical condition in hospital. Hundreds of others were taken to hospital. The explosions late Wednesday knocked doors off buildings in the area and shattered windows up to several kilometers (miles) away.
"I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on," Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, whose home is several kilometers from the blast site, said in a telephone interview. "Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it."
Zhang said she could see wounded people weeping. She said she did not see anyone who had been killed, but "I could feel death."
There was no indication of what caused the blasts, and no immediate sign of any large release of toxic chemicals into the air. Beijing News reported on its website that there was some unidentified yellow foam flowing at the site.
Police in Tianjin said an initial blast took place at shipping containers in a warehouse for hazardous materials owned by Ruihai Logistics, a company that says it's properly approved to handle hazardous materials. State media said senior management of the company had been detained by authorities, and that President Xi Jinping has demanded severe punishment for anyone found responsible for the explosions.
The official Xinhua News agency said an initial explosion triggered other blasts at nearby businesses. The National Earthquake Bureau reported two major blasts before midnight, the first with an equivalent of 3 tons of TNT, and the second with the equivalent of 21 tons.
The explosions took place in a mostly industrial zone, with some apartment buildings in the vicinity. Buildings of a half-dozen other logistics companies were destroyed in the blasts, and more than 1,000 new Renault cars were left charred in nearby parking lot, Beijing News said.
Photos taken by bystanders and circulating on microblogs show a gigantic fireball high in the sky, with a mushroom-cloud. Other photos on state media outlets showed a sea of fire that painted the night sky bright orange, with tall plumes of smoke.
About 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the explosion site is the luxury Fifth Avenue apartment complex on a road strewn with broken glass and pieces of charred metal thrown from explosion. Like surrounding buildings, the Mediterranean style complex had all its windows blown out, and some of its surfaces were scorched.
"It's lucky no one had moved in," said a worker on the site, Liu Junwei, 29. "But for us it's a total loss. Two years hard work down the drain."
"It had been all quiet, then the sky just lit up brighter than day and it looked like a fireworks show," said another worker on the site who gave just his surname, Li.
In one neighborhood about 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) from the blast site, some residents were sleeping on the street wearing gas masks, although there was no perceptible problem with the air apart from massive clouds of smoke seen in the distance.
"It was like what we were told a nuclear bomb would be like," said truck driver Zhao Zhencheng, who spent the night in the cab of his truck. "I've never even thought I'd see such a thing. It was terrifying but also beautiful."
At the nearby Taida Hospital as dawn broke, military medical tents were set up. Photos circulating online showed patients in bandages and with cuts.
State broadcaster CCTV said six battalions of firefighters had brought the ensuing fire under control, although it was still burning in the early hours of Thursday.
tianjin explosion pic.twitter.com/FK5xjCz2Xk— William Locke (@thelastnext) August 12, 2015