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Tianjin blasts: 'It was like the end of the world'


Residents of the Chinese port city of Tianjin have described in detail the shocking blasts of Wednesday night and the devastation across their city on microblogging network Weibo and other forums.

The BBC tracks how the story unfolded through their eyes.

The moment of the explosion

Tianjin residents living near the site of the accident were the first to share footage. One user's video showed a fireball rising high above skyscrapers with lit debris raining down on the city.

Many described it as an apocalyptic scene, with user Upright Teenager, saying: "There were three explosions, it was like the end of the world."

Tianjin student I'm A Flying Superhero shared these photos of the blast near her home. "It felt like an earthquake," she said.

Residents fled to the streets in shock and many uploaded images of people wandering about in a daze with a hazy, fluorescent sky lit up by the explosions.

"I'm still alive," were the simple words of Little Five Crazy. Sina News also shared pictures of residents crowding a local hospital and said as of early Thursday morning around 300 people were hospitalised.

It was felt far and wide through the city

The blasts rippled through the surrounding area, rocking buildings and shattering glass windows. One Tianjin resident said the impact of the explosions had ripped off the doors of several homes in his building and caused a blackout.

He added: "Everyone is standing outside, we can often hear the sound of glass falling to the ground."

I'm A Flying Superhero shared a picture of her living room covered in glass.

Online news portal Sina News also posted a short video of a man standing by a glass door at that time knocked to the ground by the initial blast around 23:30 local time on Wednesday (15:30 GMT).

Residents started offering help

Tianjin residents began sharing posts listing emergency numbers and numbers of local authorities for people to call.

One person, surnamed Li, offered shelter to residents who could not go home, posting an address and phone number.

"There's a large carpark, there's water, airconditioning, and a place for children to rest," the person said in a post that was shared thousands of times on Weibo.

On Thursday morning many users in Tianjin were sharing information on road closures in the area and traffic updates.

Some also posted pictures of the thick black smoke coming from the site. User Tianjin Clock Forgets Time was driving on a highway about 500m by the site and posted this image, saying: "Hope everyone soon escapes from this shadow."

Beijing Youth Daily reporters snapped and shared pictures of a logistics park containing several thousands of cars which were incinerated by the powerful explosions

Support from all over China

There has been an outpouring of sympathy from Weibo users from all over China for Tianjin residents.

"My heart is so heavy! I'm praying for Tianjin and for Tang Gu!" said Old Men Are Interesting, referring to the area where the explosion took place.

"Thank you firefighters!!! I hope more Tianjin residents will go to the hospital to donate blood. Don't forget to wear a mask if you're leaving the house. Go Tianjin!" said user Antler Deer, adding several prayer emojis.

Cracking down on posts

But China's infamous censorship machine has also swung into action. The website, which tracks deleted content, said the top four scrubbed topics on Weibo were on Tianjin.

The censored posts mainly took issue with television outlets for not initially broadcasting news of the incident on Thursday morning. Some viewers said stations broadcast a soap opera.

Other deleted posts linked to a clip of a CNN reporter forced to stop his live broadcast outside of a Tianjin hospital when he was swarmed by several men.

Related Topics

  • Tianjin
  • China