Explosion Rocks Chinese City Of Tianjin

by Chris Tognotti

Wednesday afternoon brought some harrowing news out of China: a massive explosion hit the city of Tianjin, leaving hundreds hospitalized, and a yet-uncertain number of people dead. Some details have trickled out regarding the origins of the explosion, as China's state-run media outlet Xinhua reports that the cause was "inflammables and explosives at container terminal." But it's the photos and videos of the Tianjin explosion that really lay bare just how bad it was — they've been popping up all over around social media, and they're shocking in the extreme.

As Vox detailed in their sum-up of the blast, Tianjin is a port city on the northeastern coast of China, and apparently the explosion originated at a shipping container yard, reportedly containing hazardous materials. When you see the size of the explosion, and the subsequent explosions it triggered, it's easy to see why authorities are so fearful of heavy casualties figures.

While CNN has reported that a minimum of 13 people were killed in the blast, and at least 260 injured, there's no telling just yet how bad it is — according to The New York Times, Tianjin authorities said that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath wreckage. Suffice to say, it's going to be a while before the full scale of this tragedy becomes clear.

As the video above from Reportedly shows, the explosion was so staggering that it actually caused a building to shake. The shock wave effect was considerable — a Chinese seismology agency reportedly identified the largest of the explosions as being the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT going off. Here's how Tianjin resident Chen Bingzhi described the incident to The Guardian — Bingzhi reportedly lives just a couple miles from the blast site.

When the first explosion happened, it felt like a earthquake. The whole building was shaking. I live on the fifth floor and all the windows are broken.

As detailed by BBC News, some of the resulting fires have apparently been contained rather than extinguished, in the hopes of burning off any chemicals left behind from the catastrophe. Environmental issues aren't uncommon to the people of the city, either — not unlike the Chinese capitol city of Beijing, the city has a history of brutal air pollution, and the air quality is surely even worse following this disaster.

According to CNN, it's possible that the explosion was caused by a fire which had broken out earlier. Firefighters were reportedly en-route to the location to combat a fire that had been discovered, and the explosion occurred after they'd arrived.