Warehouse explodes near Tianjin’s port, 44 killed, over 400 injured

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-13 14:32:27

A pair of huge blasts rocked North China's Tianjin Municipality when a warehouse filled with dangerous and chemical goods exploded at around 11:30 pm Wednesday, with the death toll currently standing at 44, over 400 confirmed injured and dozens of firefighters missing. 

The cause of the explosion remains unknown.

Most of the injured were sent to Tianjin Teda Hospital, which is the closest medical facility to the warehouse, with other hospitals such as Tianjin Fifth Center Hospital and Tianjin Hospital also receiving the injured.

Tianjin Teda Hospital confirmed with the Global Times that they received over 70 injured at around 8 am in the morning and that the number is increasing.

Most of the injured are suffering from burns and bruises, according to the hospital.

Rescue forces were sent to the scene by the firefighting bureau of Tianjin's Ministry of Public Security, including 143 fire trucks and over 1000 firefighters. 

A total of nine firefighters are known to have died and 36 were "out of contact" after the explosion, reported China Central Television (CCTV).

A group of 1500 of Tianjin's armed police headed in the area to provide support, reported the People Liberation Army Daily, a newspaper affiliated to China's military. 

The warehouse is 50 kilometers from downtown Tianjin, 165 kilometers away from downtown Beijing. 

The warehouse, located in the Binhai New Area near the Tianjin Container Port, belongs to Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Company which was founded in 2011.

The first explosion at 11:34 pm was equivalent to a magnitude 2.3 earthquake, the second equal to a 2.9 - similar in size to the detonation of around 21 tons of TNT, said the China Earthquake Network Center.

Rescue work was suspended after an urgent meeting, according to the Fire Department of Ministry of Public Security at 10 am. 

The work on the still-burning blaze was stopped as the quantity and nature of the dangerous materials and how they were stored remains to be confirmed, reported China Central Television. 

Some chemicals can explode on contact with water, posing a risk to firefighters.

The shockwaves were felt kilometers away, with some residents saying their windows and fish tanks shattered. People in nearby neighborhoods said the flames lit up the sky and the blasts sent smoke and dust hundreds of meters into the sky, reported Xinhua News Agency.  

Photos posted on Sina Weibo showed parking lots filled with hundreds of burnt-out cars.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have urged all-out efforts in the rescue and search work to minimize casualties, said Xinhua.

A directive from Xi said that the fire should be controlled, the cause of the disaster and who is responsible should be verified as soon as possible; the relatives of the dead and the injured should be supported and reassured; and to ensure social security and to soften society's mood, the rescue should be carried out scientifically. 

Premier Li Keqiang instructed the relevant authorities to carry out a thorough and organized rescue. He also called for the timely and transparent disclosure of facts related to the disaster.

The State council has assigned a work group to Tianjin to oversee the rescue and subsequent work. 

A fire drill was led by the company's security department in June 2014, which was the "month of safety," according to a report on the firm's website. "Safety comes from long-term cautiousness and accidents rise from a second's negligence," read a banner in one of the report's photos. 

The local public security authorities reviewed the warehouse's safety "from many perspectives" in August 2014, read another report from the website. 

Air quality monitoring stations in Tianjin and southeast Beijing showed no increase in the density of all monitored pollutants, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

Over a hundred citizens in Tianjin have registered at the local blood center and the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center is ready to offer its support. 

Global Times

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