Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least 44 people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday.
At least 520 people were injured, more than 60 of them seriously, the Tianjin government said on its Weibo microblog, and the official Xinhua news agency said two fires were still burning.
Wednesday night’s blasts, so large that they were seen by satellites in space, sent shockwaves through apartment blocks kilometers away in the port city of 15 million people. Internet videos showed fireballs shooting into the sky and the U.S. Geological Survey registered the blasts as seismic events.
Vast areas of the port – the 10th largest in the world – were devastated, crumpled shipping containers were thrown around like match sticks, hundreds of new cars were torched and port buildings left as burnt-out shells, Reuters witnesses said.
“I was sleeping when our windows and doors suddenly shook as we heard explosions outside. I first thought it was an earthquake,” Guan Xiang, who lives 7 km (4 miles) away from the explosion site, told Reuters by telephone.
Guan, 24, said he saw flames and a mushroom cloud in the sky as he and other residents scrambled to get out of the building.
Tianjin authorities said 12 firefighters were among the 44 killed.
The cause of the blasts was being investigated but Xinhua said several containers caught fire beforehand. Industrial accidents are not uncommon in…