Updated (Aug. 13th): At least 44 people have now been reported killed by the massive blast that residents likened to a nuclear bomb. A further 520 people have now been confirmed as being taken to local hospitals. 12 firefighters have been confirmed as dead and 36 more remain unaccounted for. Firefighters rushed into the first fire and were caught in the follow-on explosion. The blast site is highly toxic as the materials that exploded were deadly chemicals used in industrial processes. Firefighters suspended battling the blaze early Thursday morning to assess just what chemicals had caught fire and how toxic they were. About 8,000 troops trained in anti-chemical warfare and 1,500 armed police joined the rescue and relief efforts Thursday afternoon.
A massive explosion rattled the Chinese port city of Tianjin Wednesday night, killing at least seven people and injuring over 50, according to local media.
While the cause was not immediately disclosed, the explosion erupted at a container shipping port where combustible material was being held, according to reports from China’s state television broadcaster CCTV.
Xinhua news agency, another of the country’s state controlled media outlets, reported the explosion was at a warehouse containing “dangerous goods” in the Binhai New Area. It failed to identify precisely what such goods were.
A local hospital had received over 50 patients suffering from injuries caused by broken glass and debris from the explosion. Some were reported to be in serious condition.
Observers reported two distinct blasts, one of which triggered secondary explosions. The blast shattered windows, fish tanks and triggered local tremors, according to residents.
Firefighters from the Chinese Public Security Ministry reported that the first call for help was for a fire and that the explosion happened after they had arrived.
Badly damaged buildings and infrastructure led to four firefighters being injured and two remaining unaccounted for, according to a ministry spokesperson.
An investigation into the explosion is ongoing and casualties could likely climb higher as people are accounted for. Officials refused to speculate about the source of the explosion until the investigation had reached its conclusion.