News and Views
China blasts: Casualties as Tianjin shipment blows up
Massive explosions have hit China’s northern city of Tianjin, causing at least seven deaths and reportedly injuring some 300 people.
According to Chinese state media, the blasts occurred when a shipment of explosives blew up in the port city at about 23:30 (16:30 GMT).
Pictures and video shared on social media showed flames lighting up the sky and damage to nearby buildings.
Shockwaves could apparently be felt several kilometres away from Tianjin.
The editor of the BBC’s Chinese Service, Raymond Li, says all indications are that it is an industrial accident.
The first explosion was followed by another 30 seconds later.
An official Chinese seismic agency said the force of the first explosion was equivalent to three tons of TNT, the second was 21 tons.
Further blasts were subsequently triggered nearby, Xinhua state news agency said.
Hours later, fires were still burning and 100 fire engines were at the scene, reported Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
It added that police were focusing on search and rescue operations rather than putting out the fire, as they want all chemicals to burn up completely. There was concern that high winds in the area could cause yet another blast.
Two firefighters were “out of contact”, and four were among the injured, Xinhua said.
Ms Yang, an eyewitness, told local media she was out shopping when “suddenly from behind there was a big fireball and explosion”.
“At the time of the explosion the ground was shaking fiercely, nearby cars and buildings were shaking, a few buildings’ glass all broke and everyone started to run,” she said.
“Now all the residents are gathered in the street.”
Another eyewitness, Canadian teacher Monica Andrews, awoke in panic after what she thought was an earthquake.
“I… looked out the window and the sky was red… I just watched a second explosion go off and just pure chaos, everyone leaving their apartment buildings thinking it’s an earthquake, cars trying to leave the complex and just it was crazy the amount of light that this explosion and fire lit up, she told the BBC.
China National Radio said cracks were visible in buildings near the site of the blast.
Several tower blocks near the port area are without power, CCTV said.
The blasts took place in a warehouse area storing dangerous goods in Tianjin’s Binhai development zone, Xinhua said.
Tianjin, home to some 15 million people, is a major port and industrial area to the south-east of the Chinese capital, Beijing,
Are you in Tianjin? Did you witness the explosion?