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Dozens killed in China Tianjin port blasts

 The fire service was already at the scene at the time of the explosions, reports say

The fire service was already at the scene at the time of the explosions, reports say

THE massive explosions in China’s northern city of Tianjin are now known to have killed at least 50 people.

More than 700 have been injured and hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of casualties.

The blasts, at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals, destroyed tower blocks and burned out thousands of cars. The fireball could be seen from space.

Twelve firefighters are among those who lost their lives; 36 of their colleagues are still missing.

Tianjin is one of China’s most important industrial centres, and one of the busiest ports in the world.

President Xi Jinping has promised a thorough investigation into what happened and “transparent information disclosure to the public,” Xinhua news agency reports.

The first explosion occurred at about 23:30 local time (15:30 GMT) on Wednesday in Tianjin’s Binhai New Area, a vast industrial zone which houses car factories, aircraft assembly lines and other manufacturing and research firms.

The blast was followed seconds later by another, more powerful blast, and a series of smaller explosions.

Broken and buckled shipping containers litter the site and vast areas of the port have been devastated.

Buildings within a 2km radius (1.5 miles) had windows blown out and office blocks were destroyed.

The impact of the blasts could be felt several kilometres away, and was detected by a US Geological Survey monitoring unit in Beijing 160km (100 miles) away.

State media reported that firefighters arrived at the port at 23:06 local time (15:06 GMT) as containers was on fire; another batch of firefighters arrived at around 23:16, 14 minutes before the first explosion.

Reports in Chinese media said the blasts happened after a shipment of explosives detonated in a warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics, a company that specialises in handling dangerous and toxic chemicals.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said at least one person from the “relevant company” had been detained for questioning.

The warehouse was designed to store chemicals including sodium cyanide, butanone and toluene diisocyanate, as well as compressed natural gas and other flammable substances.

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