THE Chinese city of Tianjin has been hit by two large explosions which have killed at least 44 and injured hundreds more, local authorities have reported.
Of more than 1,000 firefighters sent to fight flames in the industrial area where the explosions occurred, 12 have been confirmed dead and contact has been lost with another 36, while state news agency Xinhua reported that about 520 people have been admitted to hospital, more than 60 with serious injuries.
The first explosion, believed to have hit a shipment of explosives, happened at about 11.30pm local time and sent huge fireballs into the air with a blast wave that was felt up to 10 kilometres away, with the second blast following seconds later.
Other smaller blasts were triggered by the initial explosion, leading to many people being wounded by flying glass and stones with worry on the street that a major earthquake of atomic bomb was the culprit.
Although there is no official explanation so far, President Xi Jinping has demanded severe punishment for anyone found to be responsible for the blasts.
Currently in China, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressed his “deep condolences for the tragic loss of life.”
“I was in this vibrant city, meeting local workers at the Airbus factory, just hours before the explosions happened and pay tribute to Tianjin emergency workers who have been fighting fires and treating casualties,” he said.