Wednesday, August 12, 2015, two giant explosions occurred in the Chinese port of Tianjin. The explosions were caused by hundreds of tonnes of highly poisonous cyanide that were being stored at the warehouse in the Chinese port, a senior military officer shared.
According to earlier reports, 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide had been stored in the warehouse. The presence of cyanide at the site of the blasts was confirmed by the government as the number of casualties continued to rise, with 161 confirmed dead as of September 7. Most deaths were caused by cyanide poisoning, a problem that occurs when a living organism is exposed to a compound that produces cyanide ions dissolved in water.
Hundreds of damaged cars and buildings explode in the Chinese port of Tianjin.
A rumor was spread regarding toxic contamination that raised fears to the nearby residents and families of the victims. The Chinese government however claimed that it was an information blackout and that they were trying their best to explain the situation. Dozens of websites that started the rumors were shut down by the Chinese government.
The result of the August 12 blast triggered a huge fireball and a blaze that emergency workers have struggled to put out since then, with fresh explosions still happening even three days later. On Saturday, August 16, more than 700 people have also been hospitalized and nearly 100 people still remained missing, including 85 firefighters, though officials cautioned that some of them could be among the unidentified corpses found that day.
The chief of the general staff of the Beijing military region, Shi Luze, told a news conference, “The cyanide had been identified at two locations in the blast zone. The volume was about several hundreds of tonnes, according to preliminary estimates.”
A team of 217 chemical and nuclear experts, as well as professionals from the producers of the material, were called by the government officials to help handle the aftermath of the blast, and the neutralizing agent hydrogen peroxide was used. The US Centers for Disease Control says that the exposure to the said materials can be “rapidly fatal.”
The Chinese government shut down a total of fifty websites for creating a panic by publishing unverified information or letting users spread false rumors.
Incredible photos of the blast taken using a drone show how big the impact made by the explosions. These images are testaments that Tianjin will forever remember this incident.
A military team of 217 chemical and nuclear experts is on the scene.
As of this writing, a total of 161 people were found dead.
Hundreds of tonnes of cyanide are kept at the warehouse devastated by giant explosions.
According to the Cyberspace Administration of China, in a move to limit criticism of the handling of the aftermath, a total of 50 websites were shut down or suspended for creating panic by publishing unverified information or letting users spread groundless rumors. More than 360 social media account users were punished, and posts containing false information were blocked.
A blogger posted on Sina Weibo, “Why is it ‘rumors’ are flying everywhere every time there is a disaster? Are they really rumors? The government is lying . . . You have lied to the people too much and made yourself untrustworthy.”
Another poster added, “No freedom of speech. Words are blocked in various ways.”
Despite the presence of some pollutants at levels above normal standards in Tianjin, the authorities have repeatedly sought ways to reassure the public that the air remains safe to breathe. Chinese authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of all residents within a two-mile radius from the epicenter of the explosion. It was revealed that deadly sodium cyanide was present at the site, and the blast created a giant crater at the facility.
Orders are given by the Chinese authorities to evacuate all residents within a two-mile radius flattened industrial zone in the northeast of the country yesterday.
Soldiers of the National Nuclear Biochemical Emergency rescue team take debris samples near the core area of the explosion site in Tianjin.
Shocking aerial pictures taken above the site of the huge Tianjin explosion reveal the damage of the chemical blast.
An aerial shot shows a massive hole at the core of the explosion site after Wednesday’s warehouse fire.
The police confirmed the presence of the sodium cyanide, which is fatal when ingested or inhaled.
According to the state-run Beijing News, the Chinese authorities did not say how much had been found or how great a risk it posed.
The State Oceanic Administration of China posted on its official website, “No cyanide had been found in the ocean surrounding the port.”
The evacuation came as a fire broke out again at the site of the blasts in the warehouse that’s specially designed to store dangerous chemicals, the Xinhua News Agency said. The officials declined to discuss pollution concerns, referring reporters to other departments, at an afternoon news conference.
Soldiers donned gas masks as they prepared to search for those who are still missing.
An excavator still works in the midst of destroyed containers at the explosion site.
Chinese police confirmed that deadly sodium cyanide was present at the site of the blasts.
Seventy specialized anti-chemical soldiers entered the core area of the blast site to monitor chemical contamination.
According to an August 16 report by Daily Mail, the fire in Tianjin Warehouse left 721 people in hospital as the cars exploded and triggered new blasts.
The Chinese firefighters rest as they wait to be deployed near the site of an explosion in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality.
Firefighters wear gas masks as they search for survivors in the site.
On the playground of a primary school at Binhai district in Tianjin, a man eats in a tent set up as a temporary shelter for the affected citizens.
According to a post on the official blog of the Tianjin branch of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, the streets appeared calm as evacuees were advised to wear long trousers and face masks as they vacated the area in an orderly fashion.
A two-mile zone has been evacuated prompted by the threat of toxic substances spreading. The blasts originated in a warehouse storing toxic chemicals and now, some residents have expressed concern that the air and water could have been poisoned.
A construction worker Li Shulan, said when asked about air quality: “I do feel a bit afraid. It definitely doesn’t feel good. As you can see our boss is making us wear masks.”
According to Beijing News, an area two miles from the site was cordoned off while one school, which had been set up as a safe haven for residents living close to the danger area, had since been evacuated. Injured and evacuated people were staying at the emergency shelter in the primary school in the Binhai New Area.
Smoke rises as damaged vehicles are seen burning near the site of Wednesday’s explosions.
Citizens wear face masks as they grace the streets of the affected city.
Carrying their essential items, residents are evacuated from the danger zone around the site of the massive explosion.
Thousands of people have been displaced by the blast with hundreds left injured and more more than thirty in a serious condition, Xinhua News Agency reports.
As the death toll continued to rise, families of missing firefighters demanded answers about their loved ones at a press conference, while officials tried to keep media cameras away.
After trying to demand more information from government officials, the mother of missing firefighter Xue Ning cries outside a news conference as family members comforts her.
(Above) A government news conference was stormed by family members of the missing firefighters, demanding information. In this picture, Wang Baoxia talked to a journalist about her missing brother, Wang Quan. She said, “We have gone to each and every hospital by ourselves and not found them.
According to a post on the micro-blog of the official China Central Television, there were about seven small explosions in the area on Saturday, August 15. A witness told Reuters that a fresh blaze ignited cars in a parking lot next to the blast site, but the cause was not immediately cleared.
A former engineer with the city’s environmental protection bureau, Bao Jingling, said, “At the moment, air pollution does not pose much danger to those in the vicinity, harmful substances could not be detected in the air from 17 monitors placed around the city.”
On Friday morning, Zhou Ti, 19, was freed by rescuers around dawn after he was trapped for two days.
The 19-year-old firefighter was treated by medics at Tianjin Medical University General Hospital.
Burnt-out vehicles and buildings were completely gutted.
Media reports said that firefighters in China lacked training as new recruits and were given only two-year contracts. After Wednesday’s blasts, fire crews were criticized for using water to douse flames, which may have contributed to the blasts, given the volatile nature of the chemicals involved. Shock waves from the explosions were felt by residents in apartment blocks miles away from the city.
Relatives of the 25 missing firefighters said that they were young contract workers not part of official city fire brigades.
Several vehicles are seen burning following the blasts.