As more videos about the massive explosions that rocked the Chinese port city of Tianjin go online, the authorities are trying to control information relating to the tragedy that occurred on Wednesday night.
At least 50 people are believed to have been killed by the two fiery blasts at a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals. Among that number were 12 firefighters who were sent to fight the blaze in the mostly industrial zone reports AP.
Hundreds have also been injured, but no figures have been released on how many people are believed to be missing.
Like a war-zone
The blasts at the warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics reduced nearby buildings to skeletons, and turned a fleet of 1,000 new cars into charred metal shells.
The above drone footage shows the extent of the damage caused by the blasts. The video below consists of numerous footage of the blasts synced together:
AP’s reporter Christopher Bodeen wrote that it is typical in China that the authorities try to maintain tight control over information about disasters. He reported that access to the affected areas was restricted to journalists.
Meanwhile in cyberspace, funny things were also happening.
“On China’s popular microblogging platform of Weibo, some users complained that their posts about the blasts were deleted, and the number of searchable posts on the disaster fluctuated, in a sign that authorities were manipulating or placing limits on the number of posts,” he wrote.
Bodeen also reported that the state broadcaster CCTV had a live broadcast of a news conference in Tianjin. He wrote that when the municipality’s Environmental Protection Bureau chief, Wen Wurui, was asked by a reporter whether the chemicals at the warehouse had been stored far enough away from residences in the area, Wen seemed at a loss for a response. “The broadcaster suddenly cut away from the news conference, only to return to it again later,” Bodeen added.
For several eyewitness accounts, see the below video:
While the Environmental Protection Bureau chief may have been lost for words, there were residents sharing their experiences.
‘‘I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on,’’ Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu told AP. Her home is several kilometers (miles) from the where the explosion occurred.
‘‘Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it.’’
After the blast, a truck driver, Zhao Zhencheng, spent the night in the cab of his vehicle. ‘‘It was like what we were told a nuclear bomb would be like,’’ Zhao said. ‘‘I’ve never even thought I’d see such a thing. It was terrifying, but also beautiful.’’
Tianjin has a population of around 15 million, and it is 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Beijing.
See some of the tweets covering the blast’s aftermath below.