At least 44 people have been killed and 520 others have been injured after a series of blasts occurred at a warehouse containing chemical and toxic materials in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. Of the 520 people injured, 66 of them are said to be critical.
According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the blasts ripped through the Ruihai warehouse, which stores dangerous goods, at 11.20 PM local time on Wednesday, following a fire report.
The rescuers said that fireballs erupted and thereafter ignited more explosions in installations nearby, stated Xinhua. 12 fire fighters were also killed in the rescue operations.
A leading key news website of China, People’s Daily reported that the massive blasts were caused by combustible and explosive goods stored in containers at the warehouse.
Chemicals at a container terminal exploded in Binhai New Area in Tianjin. CCTV showed footage of massive explosions in the city. In the video, a huge mushroom cloud and fire can be seen far off. Fire is still said to be raging at the place of explosion, billowing out smoke.
A TV report said the fire was yet to be contained as fire-fighters could use water to put it out due to presence of chemicals. The fire fighters used sand and other materials to contain it.
Xinhua said that people were trapped inside the blast site and rescue operation was still on. The injured have been sent to nearby hospitals. More than 10,000 people were reportedly evacuated from the nearby areas in Tianjin as a precautionary measure undertaken by the government.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have urged all-out efforts to save the injured and minimize casualties in the Tianjin blast.
In an instruction, President Xi ordered local authorities in Tianjin to spare no effort to treat the injured, search for the missing and contain the fire. Xi and Li also commanded a work group led by Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun to direct rescue operation and emergency response