Explosion in China's Tianjin city claims 44 lives; over 500 injured

Beijing: At least 44 people were killed and over 500 injured in two massive explosives that ripped through a warehouse in China's port city of Tianjin, destroying hundreds of cars, shattering window panes and with huge flames leaping into the night sky.

Twelve fire-fighters were among those killed in the blast late Wednesday at the warehouse, which stores dangerous goods, in the Binhai New Area, Xinhua news agency reported.

The first explosion occurred at 11.30 p.m. and was followed by a second more powerful blast, seconds later, BBC reported.

A total of 520 people have been hospitalized, including 66 who are critically injured, rescuers said.

Tianjin, about half an hour from Beijing by train, is home to 14.72 million people.

Zhang, who lives a 10-minute-drive from the site, said the blast made the night sky as bright as it was in the daytime, reported China Daily citing sohu.com.

Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city
Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city. Pic/ AFP

A video clip of a witness showed that the heavy smoke covered the sky, and shortly after fires raged. There were loud bangs.

Truck driver Hu Xiaoliang, 32, woke up on Wednesday night due to a ear-shattering blast which threw him away from beneath his truck, where he and his co-workers were resting.

"It's all black and smog, I can't see anything inside. Some of my colleagues had even worse injuries," an injured fire-fighter in his 20s told Xinhua.

Smog billowed from the site. In a nearby apartment complex, the balconies of many apartment buildings were shattered.

Du Wenjun never imagined that he would see a 'mushroom cloud' outside the window of his home.

Zhao Lirong, a 35-year-old businesswoman, was asleep when the blast blew off the windows and doors of her apartment, hitting her head, her son's neck and her husband's feet.

Blood stains were splattered on the floors of hospitals that received injured patients.

People rushed into the streets in their pyjamas, and some worried that an earthquake could occur.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have vowed to investigate the accident.

Xi ordered authorities to spare no effort to treat the injured, search for the missing and contain the fire.

Li urged authorities to intensify search and rescue operations.

Hundreds of fire-fighters struggled to contain the flames.

Around 1,000 fire-fighters and 143 fire engines were rushed to the warehouse. Xinhua reported that the volatility of the goods meant the fire is unpredictable and dangerous to approach.

At least 200 armed police officers were deployed at the warehouse.

China shut down supercomputer Tianhe-1A, which can perform 2.57 quadrillion computing operations per second, due to the blasts. Tianhe-1A is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin.

The shockwaves due to the blasts shattered windows at the centre and and led to the collapse of ceilings inside the building, according to the centre's staff.

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