Friday, August 14, 2015
Is this a nuclear bomb? drone captures apocalyptic scenes in Tianjin, China, after industrial explosions
In the aftermath of deadly explosions at a chemicals warehouse, parts of Tianjin city in China looked like scenes from an apocalyptic film or a war zone, with destroyed buildings and homes, torched cars and pillars of thick smoke.
Testament to the devastation, eyewitnesses compared the strength of the blasts to military bombs. “Our building is shaking. Is this an atomic bomb?” a frenzied voice is heard saying in amateur footage posted on YouTube from what appeared to be an apartment building some distance away from the Binhai New Area, the epicentre.
The clip showed fire shooting into the night sky from the initial blast when the second, much bigger, explosion rocked the area, sending a huge fireball into the air. Seconds later, the apartment building is seen violently shaking.
In another amateur video which appears to be shot closer to the scene, people scream from inside a car as the shockwave hits from the second blast, rocking their vehicle.
WATCH: Amateur footage of the explosions in Tianjn (WARNING: May be upsetting to some viewers)
A photographer from the Beijing Youth Daily captured the chilling aftermath at ground zero, with a cluster of industrial buildings in Binhai reduced to ashes and piles of smoking debris. The blasts were powerful enough to crumple shipping containers and flatten nearby warehouses into twisted pieces of sheet metal.
Shell-shocked residents posted photos of their homes, with unhinged doors and collapsed ceilings.
The blasts had ripped through an industrial area in the port city’s northeast at around 11.30pm local time on Wednesday after a shipment of explosives ignited at the warehouse storing “dangerous chemical goods”, according to CCTV, and the second blast came roughly 30 seconds later. At least 17 people, among them firefighters, were killed and as much as 400 people injured.
State news agency Xinhua said the first blast was equivalent to three tonnes of TNT detonating and the second blast 21 tonnes of TNT detonating.
The force of the explosions – which blew walls and windows off apartments and office towers, sending shattered glass and concrete flying – unnerved residents across much of the city of 15 million people.
“It was like what we were told a nuclear bomb would be like,” said truck driver Zhao Zhencheng, who spent the night in the cab of his truck a few kilometres from the accident site. “I’ve never even thought I’d see such a thing. It was terrifying but also beautiful.”
Canadian teacher Monica Andrews told the BBC that she awoke in panic after what she thought was an earthquake.
“I ... looked out the window and the sky was red ... I just watched a second explosion go off and [it was] just pure chaos, everyone leaving their apartment buildings thinking it’s an earthquake, cars trying to leave the complex and ... it was crazy the amount of light that this explosion and fire lit up,” she said.
The owners of the warehouse, Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, have yet to issue comment. President Xi Jinping has urged a speedy response to contain the disaster.
Fires were still burning after dawn as injured residents and workers, some bleeding profusely from being hurt by broken glass and debris, filled up local hospitals.
In another photo by a news agency, all that was left of a carpark near the blast site were 1,000 charred Renault cars, which had been brand-new. Several fire trucks were destroyed and nearby firefighters wept as they worked to extinguish flames, The Beijing News said.