Huge Explosions at Tianjin Port


The first explosion was the equivalent to three tons of TNT; the second, 21 tons. The blast wave hit residential areas several kilometers from the warehouse, damaging 17,000 homes. The second explosion was so large that Japanese weather satellite Himawari 8 picked up the blast in infrared.

Jack Scott, Staff Writer

On August 12th, several explosions rippled through the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing 114 people, injuring almost 700, and displacing roughly 6,000. Seventy people, mostly firefighters, are still missing. The cause of the explosions, traced back to a chemical warehouse, is currently unknown, although Chinese authorities are investigating it. Yu Xuewei and Dong Shexuan, chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, the business that owns the warehouse, were detained due to the incident.

Seven hundred tons of sodium cyanide, a dangerous chemical, has been found at the site, forcing the Chinese government to evacuate everyone from the immediate area. Sodium cyanide, commonly used to separate gold and silver from rock, is lethal to humans; an adult who ingests one quarter of a teaspoon of the chemical will die in a few minutes. Many displaced Chinese, saying the warehouse was built too close to residential areas, protested in the streets, demanding compensation from the Chinese government.

Evidence suggests that safety violations and political corruption contributed severely to the accident. Mr. Dong and Mr. Yu used their political connections to obtain approval for the warehouse site. Huang Xingguo, the mayor of Tianjin, stated “I bear unshirkable responsibility for this accident as head of the city,” in a news conference.