Hundreds of people have been injured and at least 50Â killed after a series of severe explosionsÂ at an industrial port in northern China.
Chinese port city of Tianjin with 14 million residents, was shakenÂ by two powerful explosions that took place atÂ about 11.30pm on Wednesday night (4.30pm GMT, 1.30am AEST).
Local authorities have already confirmed 50 deaths, including at least 12 firefighters, and revealed that al leastÂ 700 people have been takenÂ to hospital, of whom 71 have â€śsevereâ€ť injuries.
â€śThe hospital cannot count how many patients we have received â€“ there are too many of them and many of them have burn injuries,â€ť said a doctor of one the local hospitals, adding that he was in Bejing when the incident took place, so he decided to return home to help the injured.
Vast areas of the port wereÂ devastated, largeÂ shipping containers were thrown in the air, hundreds of new cars were smashedÂ and port buildings left as burnt-out shells.
â€śIt was like the catastrophic scene in Hollywood movies,â€ť one witnessÂ told reporters.
Chen Bingzhi, who lives about 4km from the explosion site,confirmed: â€śIt felt like a earthquake. The whole building was shaking. I live on the fifth floor and all the windows are broken.â€ť
â€śMany cars were rushing past us and through their windows I could see injured people sitting or lying inside,â€ť she said.
Firefighters spoke of terrifyingÂ scenes near the blastsÂ site. â€śItâ€™s all black and smog, I canâ€™t see anything inside,â€ť one witness said.
“I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on,” Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, revealed to reporters.Â “Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it.”
Niu Aimin, a street cleaner nearby described the terror when the explosion hit.
â€śWe were there at home and then suddenly BOOM! It was just like an earthquake. I ran outside and then saw fire lighting up the sky.â€ť
Hu Xiaoliang, a 32-year-old truck driver, said he had been napping under his vehicle at the time of the explosions. The force of the blast â€ścatapultedâ€ť him away from beneath the truck, he claimed.
â€śI was sleeping under my truck when the first blast occurred. It literally threw me out of the trunk. The second blast was bigger, flames came and now my truck is all ashes.â€ť
Greenpeace East Asia warned that the toxic chemicals released in the blast could cause another explosion.
“CaC2 and TDI react violently with water and reactive chemicals, with risk of explosion. This will present a challenge for firefighting and, with rain forecast for tomorrow, is a major hazard.â€ť Greenpeace said.
The explosions were visible from space, according to Dan Lindsey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research meteorologist at Colorado State University’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. Lindsey saidt he had pinpointed the location of the blasts using data from the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s Himawari-8 satellite.