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.


A mushroom cloud was said to have been visible 10 kilometers from the blast site. Windows in nearby buildings were blown away.

Tianjin explosion.
Tianjin explosion. Photo: Weibo.

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.

Damage in a nearby building
Damage in a nearby building. Photo: Weibo.
Damage in a nearby building.
Damage in a nearby building. Photo: Weibo.

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.

Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others