Huge blasts at Chinese port kill 50, injure more than 700

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
China Explosions: Blasts Rock Tianjin

Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least 50 people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday.

At least 700 people were injured, more than 71 seriously, the Tianjin government said on its Weibo microblog, and the official Xinhua news agency said two fires were still burning.

Wednesday night's blasts, so large that they were seen by satellites in space, sent shockwaves through apartment blocks kilometers away in the port city of 15 million people. Internet videos showed fireballs shooting into the sky and the U.S. Geological Survey registered the blasts as seismic events.

Vast areas of the port - the 10th largest in the world - were devastated, crumpled shipping containers were thrown around like match sticks, hundreds of new cars were torched and port buildings left as burnt-out shells, Reuters witnesses said.

"I was sleeping when our windows and doors suddenly shook as we heard explosions outside. I first thought it was an earthquake," Guan Xiang, who lives 7 km (4 miles) away from the explosion site, told Reuters by telephone.

Guan, 24, said he saw flames and a mushroom cloud in the sky as he and other residents scrambled to get out of the building.

Tianjin authorities said 12 firefighters were among the 44 killed.

See photos from the blast:

62 PHOTOS
Tianjin, China explosion
See Gallery
Huge blasts at Chinese port kill 50, injure more than 700
Smoke continues to billow from behind rows of burnt out Volkswagen cars the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescuers work at the site of the explosions in Tianjin on August 14, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported on August 13, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Shipping containers sit piled up next to a badly damaged building on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, a man walks through the site of an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality. Rescuers have pulled a survivor from an industrial zone about 32 hours after it was devastated by huge blasts in China’s Tianjin port. Meanwhile, authorities are moving gingerly forward in dealing with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A woman organizes lists of missing people at a refugee center for residents unable to return their homes devastated by the shockwave of Wednesday's explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Rescuers pulled out a firefighter trapped for 32 hours after responding to a fire and huge explosions in the Chinese port city as authorities dealt Friday with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man (C) surveys the damage on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Debris litters an empty street adjacent to the site the second morning after where a series of explosions hit a chemical warehouse in the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Burnt out Volkswagen cars are pictured amongst the damage on the second morning after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse hit the city of Tianjin, in northern China on August 14, 2015. A Chinese military team of nuclear and chemical experts began work on August 14 at the site of two massive explosions in the city of Tianjin, state media said, as pressure grows for authorities to explain the cause of blasts that left 50 dead. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
CORRECTION Rescuers (C) work at the site of an explosion in Tianjin on August 14, 2015. Chinese authorities struggled to extinguish fires and identify dangerous chemicals at a devastated industrial site, two days after giant explosions killed dozens and left residents in fear of being cloaked in a toxic cloud. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A nurse tends to a man at a hospital receiving victims of Wednesday's massive explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Rescuers pulled out a firefighter trapped for 32 hours after responding to a fire and huge explosions in the Chinese port city as authorities dealt Friday with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, a man walks past the charred remains of new cars at a parking lot near the site of an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality. Rescuers have pulled a survivor from an industrial zone about 32 hours after it was devastated by huge blasts in China’s Tianjin port. Meanwhile, authorities are moving gingerly forward in dealing with a fire still smoldering amid potentially dangerous chemicals. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
In this combination of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, images taken from video provided by Dan Van Duren a warehouse explodes in Tianjin, China, as filmed from a nearby residential building. Tianjin is the world's 10th largest port. (Dan Van Duren via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this combination of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, images taken from video provided by Dan Van Duren a warehouse explodes in Tianjin, China, as filmed from a nearby residential building. Tianjin is the world's 10th largest port. (Dan Van Duren via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions at a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) (EDITORS NOTE: Image is highest resolution available.) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 12, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A woman recieves treatment at Teda Hospital following the explosions of a warehouse on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Construction workers nearby the spot of Wednesday explosions evacuate a place on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
An injured worker (L) walks out with colleagues from the area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rows of burnt out Volkswagen cars are seen near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) People stay at a primary school set as the emergency evacuation after the Wednesday explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
An injured man walks out with other residents from an area near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A child sleeps on the playground at a primary school set as the emergency evacuation after the Wednesday explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A damaged warehouse is seen at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. A series of enormous explosions at an industrial area in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 44 people and injured hundreds, state media reported August 13, unleashing a fireball that ripped through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) A residential building nearby the explosions are damaged on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A man takes a photo near a burnt drum that residents said flew from a nearby explosion seen in the background in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Rows of cars are burnt following the explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) (EDITORS NOTE: Image is highest resolution available.) Fire and smoke are seen after explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 12, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Flames rise as a banner in the background reads 'no illegal operations' at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames rise next to a damaged building at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames rise next to damaged buildings at the site of an explosion in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Cars are burnt in the debris following the explosions of a warehouse in Binhai New Area on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Two men look at broken windows in a building near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Damaged containers lie in a canal as smoke billows from the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wears a mask as he visits an area damaged by an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Two women sleep on the road outside a damaged residential building near the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. E normous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500, state media reported, leaving a devastated industrial landscape of incinerated cars, toppled shipping containers and burnt-out buildings. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TIANJIN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) Construction workers nearby the spot of Wednesday explosions evacuate a place on August 13, 2015 in Tianjin, China. At least 17 people dead, 32 are in critical condition and at least another 400 injured during the explosions of a warehouse on late Wednesday in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, according to police authority. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A man with his wounds bandaged eats a bun in a hospital receiving victims of an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions in the warehouse district sent up massive fireballs that turned the night sky into day in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials and witnesses said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man takes photos of damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, northern China, on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 13 people, state media reported on August 13, as witnesses described a fireball produced by the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows behind rows of burnt out cars at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Fires burn at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men walk past damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, in northern China on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse killed 13 people, state media reported August 13. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man walks out of a hospital catering to victims of an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An injuried man stands by an ambulance outside a hospital following a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured survivor is brought to a hospital following an explosion in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A hospital worker and a resident push what appears to be a lifeless body into a hospital in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man crying about the death of his son collapses outside a hospital receiving victims of explosions in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Security guards and a resident push what appears to be a lifeless body into a hospital in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Huge explosions sparked overnight at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin killed at least 13 people, injured hundreds and sent massive fireballs into the night sky, officials and state media outlets said Thursday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An official wearing a mask stands by a police car at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The burnt wreckage of a car is seen as flames rise in the background at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin early on August 13, 2015. A series of massive explosions at a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin killed 17 people, state media reported August 13, as witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE This photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. At least 50 people were wounded on August 12 by a huge explosion of inflammable material stored in a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, state media reported. The official Xinhua news agency said the blast happened at around 11:30 pm (1630 GMT), when a deafening bang was heard and plumes of flame lit up the night sky, scattering dust dozens of metres into the air. AFP PHOTO -- CHINA OUT -- (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE This photo taken with a mobile phone on August 12, 2015 shows people taking shelter on a street after a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. At least 50 people were wounded on August 12 by a huge explosion of inflammable material stored in a warehouse in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, state media reported. The official Xinhua news agency said the blast happened at around 11:30 pm (1630 GMT), when a deafening bang was heard and plumes of flame lit up the night sky, scattering dust dozens of metres into the air. AFP PHOTO -- CHINA OUT -- (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency smoke and fire rises after an explosion in the Binhai New Area in north China's Tianjin Municipality on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday. (Yue Yuewei/Xinhua via AP) 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency smoke and fire erupt into the night sky after an explosion in the Binhai New Area in north China's Tianjin Municipality on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015. Chinese state media reported huge explosions at the Tianjin port late Wednesday with large numbers of people reported injured. (Yue Yuewei/Xinhua via AP) 

#天津 #爆炸 #祈祷 #explode #pray 😰😰😰😰😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢💔💔💔💔🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏please... let's pray for Tianjin ,China .tonight!!!
tianjin binhai new area explosion #tianjin
永昌远征军拍的现场两张照片 #天津爆炸 http://t.co/bPEO5Loj6D
damn.. #RIP 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 STAY WITH US 😢😢😢
pray for my city#boom #tianjin
Tianjin Binhai New Area exploded. suspected to be a gas station http://t.co/ko7cEsCGmO
Map locates Tianjin, China.
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The cause of the blasts was being investigated but Xinhua said several containers caught fire beforehand. Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China following three decades of breakneck economic growth. A blast at an auto parts factory in eastern China killed 75 people a year ago when a room filled with metal dust exploded.

The state-run Beijing News earlier cited Tianjin fire authorities as saying they had lost contact with 36 firefighters. By late afternoon, Xinhua reported 18 were missing, while 66 were among the hundreds of people being treated in nearby hospitals.

Xinhua said 1,000 firefighters and more than 140 fire engines were struggling to contain a blaze in a warehouse that held "dangerous goods".

"The volatility of the goods means the fire is especially unpredictable and dangerous to approach," Xinhua said.

Several fire trucks had been destroyed and nearby firefighters wept as they worked to extinguish flames, the Beijing News reported.

President Xi Jinping demanded that authorities "make full effort to rescue and treat the injured and ensure the safety of people and their property".

Xi said in a statement carried by official media that those responsible should be "severely handled".

City officials had met recently with companies to discuss tightening safety standards on the handling of dangerous chemicals. The Tianjin Administration of Work Safety posted a notice about the meeting with companies at the port on its website a week ago.

POTENTIALLY TOXIC SMOKE

Anxious residents rushed to hospitals to seek news about injured loved ones. Dozens of police guarded the entrance of the TEDA hospital, a Reuters witness said.

Pictures on Chinese media websites showed residents and workers, some bleeding, fleeing their homes. Xinhua said people had been hurt by broken glass and other flying debris. Authorities told reporters they expected the blasts to have forced 6,000 people from their homes by nightfall.

Grey clouds of smoke billowed above the blast site and several trucks carrying paramilitary police - wearing masks to protect them from potentially toxic smoke - headed to the area.

The blasts shattered windows in buildings and cars and knocked down walls in a 2-km radius around the site. Photographs on news websites showed burned-out cars inside a multi-storey car park at a logistics base at the port.

SEE ALSO: Islamic State truck bombing at Baghdad market kills 67

Video posted on YouTube from what appeared to be an apartment building some distance from the scene showed an initial blast followed by a second, much bigger, explosion. Shockwaves hit the building seconds later.

"Our building is shaking. Is this an atomic bomb?" said a frenzied voice inside. (here)

Despite the devastation, the port was operating normally, a port official said. Tianjin port is the gateway to northern China's industrial belt.

Xinhua said the explosions, the first equivalent to 3 tonnes of TNT and the second to 21 tonnes of TNT, ripped through a warehouse.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency's Beijing environmental emergency response center, as well as 214 Chinese military nuclear and biochemical materials specialists, had gone to Tianjin, the news agency said.

It identified the owner of the warehouse as Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics. The company's website said it was a government-approved firm specializing in handling "dangerous goods". Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to an assessment by government environmental inspectors published in 2014, the facility was designed to store several dangerous and toxic chemicals including butanone, an explosive industrial solvent, sodium cyanide and compressed natural gas.

CCTV said at least one person at a "relevant company" had been detained.

Among the injured were some employees of John Deere & Co (DE.N), the U.S. farm and construction equipment maker based in Moline, Illinois. Company spokesman Ken Golden said several employees who were at home at the time of the blasts sustained serious injuries and that some are in critical condition.

In addition, a small group of Deere employees working at the company's facilities sustained minor injuries from blown-out windows, Golden said in a written statement.

See footage of the explosions:

Witness Captures Massive China Explosions

More from AOL.com

At least 150 people evacuated as wind pushes California fire
Satellite images suggest North Korea expanding uranium capacity: report
US F-16 fighters fly first missions from Turkey

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners