Tianjin (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A huge double explosion in a chemicals warehouse has killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 400, transforming a part of the city of Tianjin into an apocalyptic landscape. Many people commented on social networks, comparing the explosion to an "atomic bomb".
Firefighters, arrived shortly after the explosions, but had to halt operations this morning after several dozen of them fell ill and about ten died from the fumes. In fact the precise content of the warehouse is still unknown and it is feared that it contains not only explosives, but also poisonous products.
The blasts occurred in the industrial area to the northeast of the city port. The first, at about 11.30 last night, produced by a fire that broke out among a load of explosives. The flames soon spread to a deposit of "dangerous chemical material" resulting in a second, even more terrible, blast less then thrity seconds later.
According to the Chinese Center for monitoring earthquakes, the first explosion had a magnitude equal to three tons of TNT; the second was equivalent to 21 tons of TNT.
The two major explosions were followed by other smaller explosions, that have devastated the district.
Many buildings in the industrial area of Binhai were reduced to ashes; many containers were ripped apart by the blast; a 1000 new cars in a near by autopark were destroyed; the windows in many apartments we were shattered and the ceilings collapsed.
This morning there were still flames in different areas. Many residents were injured by debris or broken glass and were admitted bleeding to hospitals in the city that are struggling to accommodate all those in need of care.
According to state media, 11 firefighters died trying to extinguish the fire. The operations were stopped this morning until the content of deposits that exploded are known. The Beijing News said that 33 firefighters are missing.
The container port of Tianjin is the 10th in the world for trade and has become the clearinghouse for mineral products, coal, cars and crude oil to northern China. The city with more than 15 million inhabitants, is home to several manufacturing and foreign idustries.
President Xi Jinping sent a message calling for "very effort" to be meade to rescue the victims and to contain the fire. Meanwhile, Ruihai Logistics executives, who own the warehouse where the explosions originated, are being questioned by the authorities.