Hundreds of injured people are trying to recover following an unexpected explosion in Tianjin, with the full extent of the damage still unknown

A massive explosion from a shipment of explosives has occurred in the port city of Tianjin. This explosion has reportedly injured hundreds of people, but the fire started by the explosion was brought under control.

Locals from as far as 10 kilometers away felt the ground shaking, while cracks appeared on buildings, making them unstable. Though, no injuries have been reported from neighbouring towns and cities, it has certainly come as a shock to those in residential areas nearby. A 2.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded by the China Earthquake Network.

Video footage shows the explosion and then seconds later, the equivalent to a very brief earthquake. Nearby emergency departments were full to capacity with many people coming in with injuries on their own accord. Several hundred people came in after a second blast took its toll. According to reports, the hospitals struggled to cope with such high demand, not knowing how many patients they had and acting on the assumption that the majority would have come in with burn injuries.

As of 7:37 pm GMT, the People’s Daily in China reported on Twitter that hospitals had received 300-400 injured patients, while 2 firefighters were missing and had lost contact. A further 6 firefighters were also injured. Many people took measures to shield themselves from falling debris, however, the devastation became clear as nearby vehicles had been swallowed by sinkholes created by the tremors in the ground.

In other video footage, images are shown of buildings collapsing in on themselves, in some cases with people still inside. Meanwhile, many images show a mushroom-shaped plume of smoke and flames rising above the city. The full devastation of such an explosion will not be known until later, however, it has caused trauma and chaos for the people of Tianjin.

In terms of social media response, despite the huge impact of the explosion on the city, #tianjin has only had 41k tweets at the time of writing. This is compared with #explosion which many people (as many as 355k) have been using to spread the news of the port explosion. This shows that while the priority is getting to safety, Twitter has triggered a significant change in how events such as the China explosion are reported.

On top of the several hundred injuries and the incident of the two missing firefighters, there has been a further report of seven deaths caused by the explosion, however, as of yet, this is a very low death toll. While it is known that the explosion was set off by a shipment of explosives in a warehouse, it is still not known what set these alight. This will no doubt, if at all possible, be subject to further investigation by the authorities.

In my lifetime, it is hard to think of an equivalent explosion that has caused as much devastation, aside from 9/11. The difference is, this, as far as we know is not an act of terrorism, however, it is still early days. It is unlikely that details such as this will ever be known, due to the size of the explosion and the lack of evidence that may have resulted from such a blast.

Overall, the full aftermath of the blast may not be known, however, it has certainly shaken the city of Tianjin to its very core. The impact that the explosion made, was devastating, not forgetting the fire that came afterwards. In the coming days, the cause but also the full extent of the damage to Tianjin will become clear. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and we hope to see improvements in the coming days.