A series of huge explosions shook the northern Chinese city of Tianjin late Wednesday, killing at least 44 people and injuring hundreds more, according to officials and state media.
The cause was not immediately clear.
Liu Yue, a 25-year-old Tianjin resident, said she felt the first blast but didn’t think too much of it.
“The second explosion was so powerful that I felt the entire 16-floor-building was shaking,” said Liu, who lives about 4 kilometers (2½ miles) from the site of the blasts. “I thought it was an earthquake! I was extremely scared. I was afraid my family was in danger.”
The initial explosion erupted at a warehouse for a logistics company in an industrial area of the port city, according to Tianjin police. The company was identified as Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co. Ltd.
The state-run news agency Xinhua reported that an explosion tore through a warehouse storing “dangerous and chemical goods” in Binhai, an area of the city by the water.
The firefighting division of the Chinese Public Security Ministry said firefighters were first called to the scene about a fire. An explosion went off after they arrived, it said.
As smoke continued to billow into the sky from the site Thursday, local authorities suspended firefighting efforts at the scene because of a lack of information on the “dangerous goods” that were stored at the warehouse, Xinhua reported.
Video from the scene showed a blinding blast of light and smoke that sent fireballs shooting across the night sky.
The initial explosion erupted at a warehouse for a logistics company, police said.
The blast triggered secondary explosions, according to Xinhua. Tremors were felt several miles away from the scene, jolting people awake.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Xinhua reported the blast ripped through a warehouse storing “dangerous and chemical goods” in the Binhai New Area.
An injured survivor is brought to a hospital following the explosion. CCTV and Xinhua said that more than 400 people were injured, while the People’s Daily said some 315 were hurt, 32 of them critically.
Many of the injuries resulted from flying debris and broken glass. Here, an injured man stands by an ambulance outside a hospital.
As day broke on Thursday, the extent of the damage was made clearer.
Smoke billows behind rows of burnt out cars damaged from the blasts. Rows of cars are burnt after the explosions.
Rows of cars are burnt after the explosions. A pile of crumpled shipping containers continue to burn on Thursday morning.
Portions of the city are still in a state of emergency with many roads blocked off.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang called for “all-out efforts” to save the injured and minimize casualties, Xinhua reported. Chinese police help a man to safety. The state-run China Earthquake Networks Center said in an official post on social media that two of the explosions had carried the force of small earthquakes. The first was measured at magnitude of 2.3, the second at 2.9, it said.
As day broke Thursday, the extent of the damage was beginning to become clear. State media carried images of damaged buildings and parking lots full of rows of burned-out cars.
Xinhua said that 44 people were killed and more than 500 were hospitalized, 66 of them for critical injuries. It had reported earlier that most of the injuries were from stones or broken glass.
The injured were taken to different hospitals in the city, and people gathered outside, waiting for news of loved ones.
Many roads were blocked off around the city, which has a population of more than 13 million.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have called for “all-out efforts” to save the injured and minimize casualties, Xinhua reported. Li also promised a full investigation of the incident.
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