Two massive explosions Wednesday at a hazardous chemical warehouse in Tianjin, China, killed at least 50 people and injured more than 700, at least 71 seriously. Twelve firefighters are among those who lost their lives; 36 are still missing. The blasts caused a huge fireball visible from space.
Buildings within a mile and a half of the warehouse had windows blown out and office blocks were left in ruin. The impact could be felt for miles, registering as seismic activity at a US Geological Survey monitoring unit in Beijing 100 miles away. The magnitude of the first explosion was the equivalent of detonating three tons of TNT and the second was the equivalent of 21 tons, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center
Fires were still burning as of this morning. According to China Youth Daily “the scene is very hot, melts your shoes and has a pungent smell of plastic. Experts say the blast site does not exclude the possible presence of cyanide.” The facility was designed to store chemicals including butanone, an explosive industrial solvent, sodium cyanide and compressed natural gas. More than 200 chemical specialists from the military have been sent in with detection devices
The cause is still unknown, although before the explosions many of the fire-fighters were reportedly already at the scene trying to control a fire. President Xi Jinping has promised a thorough investigation.