By All That's Interesting | Edited By Savannah Cox
Published August 13, 2015
Updated September 25, 2018
On August 13th, combustible chemicals in a Tianjin warehouse led to a wave of death, injury and devastation.
Fire and smoke soar into the skies of Tianjin.
On August 13th, a rash of violent explosions tore through Tianjin, China, leaving at least 50 dead and hundreds injured, according to state-run news outlet Xinhua.
Hours later, those alive are coping with massive amounts of destruction: chemical odors penetrate the air; smoke replaces sky, and countless homes and vehicles are in states of colossal disrepair in the Chinese port city. See photos of the explosion and aftermath below:
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Firefighters at the scene of the explosion. Source: Reuters/China Daily
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Parts of Tianjin resemble a smoke-filled wasteland. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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State media reports that at least 44 people are dead and over 500 are injured more than 500. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Smoke escapes a pile of shipping containers and makes its way to surrounding areas. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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Rows of brand new cars (seen here) were incinerated due to the explosion. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Brand new cars parked in Tianjin port are seen badly damaged at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Row after row of hollowed-out cars await their scrapped fate. Source: Reuters/Jason Lee
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Firefighters combat the blaze at a parking lot at the Binhai new district. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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Rescuers in a van near the site of the explosions. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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A firefighter receives treatment at a hospital following the explosions in Binhai new district. Dozens of firefighters are missing. Source: Reuters/China Daily
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State media reports that over 500 people were hurt following the explosions. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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Medical workers attend to the injured. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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Container boxes are shrouded in smoke. Source: Reuters/Jason Lee
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Shattered wall tiles and window parts cover a damaged car at the site of the Tianjin explosions. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Not even vehicles under bridges were safe from the explosion. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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A man naps at a primary school dining hall, which following the explosions has been converted into a shelter for those living nearby. Source: Reuters/Jason Lee
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Many have been displaced since the explosion. Here, a man rests on a slide. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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People wear gas masks to combat the smoke caused by the explosion. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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The explosions impacted surrounding areas, as seen from this photo. From a broken apartment window, residents have a bird's eye view of the smoke and fire laying waste to Tianjin. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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The interior of an apartment damaged by the explosion. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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A Tianjin residents takes a photo of the explosion's effects. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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A damaged fire truck at the site of the Tianjin explosions. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Another damaged car at the site of the Tianjin explosions. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Workers attempt to clean debris from the explosion site. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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Smoke billows above the city. Source: Reuters/Stringer
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A closer view reveals mountains of damaged containers. Source: Reuters/Stringer
According to state media, the explosions began at a warehouse owned by Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co., which stores and transports what have been described as "dangerous chemicals."
Chinese news organization The People's Daily reports that these combustible and explosive goods exploded in Binhai New Area, and led to the sweeping disarray that Tianjin residents now face. The company executives have since been taken into custody, said state media.
Two blasts wreaked havoc on the city of over 13 million just before midnight, with the second explosion so massive that it was equivalent to 21 metric tons of TNT or a 2.9-magnitude earthquake, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. BBC reports that residents felt shockwaves several miles away.
But after the immediate destruction comes a more pernicious - and indefinite - danger. Said environmental group Greenpeace in a public statement,
"We are concerned that certain chemicals will continue to pose a risk to the residents of Tianjin...According to the Tianjin Tanggu Environmental Monitoring Station, hazardous chemicals stored by the company concerned include sodium cyanide (NaCN), toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and calcium carbide (CaC2), all of which pose direct threats to human health on contact.
NaCN in particular is highly toxic. Ca(C2) 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."
State media reports that President Xi Jinping has urged "all-out efforts" to rescue victims and contain the fire.
For more footage, watch these videos below:
Drone footage of the Tianjin explosion.
The People's Daily captures a mushroom cloud and fire from the explosion.