At least two major explosions tore through Tianjin in eastern China on Wednesday night. According to Xinhua, the shockwaves from the blasts “were felt kilometers away” and shattered windows.
Chinese media reports indicated that the blasts occurred around 11:30 p.m. local time. People’s Daily tweeted that the “quake” from the blast was “felt 10 km away.” In a separate tweet, Peoples Daily cited the China Earthquake Network Center as saying that two explosions had occurred within 30 seconds, one magnitude 2.3 ML (or Richter magnitude) and other magnitude 2.9 ML.
The number of casualties is still unknown; Xinhua’s official report (issued at around 3 a.m. local time) noted “at least 50” people injured, while the official Twitter account of People’s Daily said a local hospital “has received 300-400 injured.” No deaths have been confirmed as of this writing, but two firefighters have been reported missing.
Update: People’s Daily is now reporting 13 dead.
There were conflicting reports as to the cause of the blast. Initial speculation suggested the cause was gas or oil-related, possibly connected to the liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Tianjin. By around 3 a.m. local time, official Chinese media sources were reporting that the explosion started at a warehouse in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, where “dangerous goods” were being stored.
CCTV had the most specific information, citing the Tianjin Public Security Bureau as saying that the explosion occurred at the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co. Ltd, “which handles the transport of hazardous goods.” Xing Zheming of CCTV America said the first explosion involved flammable materials; the second involved oil.
Update: People’s Daily reports that a representative from Rui Hai is being questioned in connection with the explosion.
Matt Simon, also of CCTV America, tweeted that reporters were being kept away from the scene of the explosion.
Most of the news in the immediate aftermath of the blast came from Chinese social media users, who posted photographs, video, and updates online. One such video is below:
The Diplomat will continue updating this breaking story as new information becomes available.