A huge explosion shook the northern China city of Tianjin late on Wednesday night leaving at least 17 dead and 400 injured, according to local media.
The first of two blasts hit a petrol storage station the city’s Binhai New Area at 11:34pm, followed quickly by a second, much larger blast 30 seconds later.
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According to Chinese media reports, the second explosion was equivalent to 21 tonnes of dynamite and caused an aftershock equal to a magnitude-2.9 earthquake.
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A mushroom cloud was said to have been visible 10 kilometers from the blast site. Windows in nearby buildings were blown away.
Both the cause of the explosion and the exact number of casualties remain unknown. Staff at Tianjin Port Hospital have reported that “300-400 injured” have already been delivered to the facility.
With a population of over 15 millions, Tianjin, bound to the east by the Bohai Gulf portion of the Yellow Sea, has historically served as the port of Beijing.
It is one of just four cities under direct administration of the central government, together with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing.