So something huge exploded in China earlier today

Overnight in the port city of Tianjin, one of the largest cities in China, this happened:

Latest casualty figures are 13 dead and “hundreds” (300-400 so far) hospitalized. At least two firefighters are missing; unfortunately, both that number and the overall number of fatalities can be expected to increase. The largest explosion had the force of 21 tons of dynamite and created a shockwave equivalent to a 2.9 earthquake. It’s believed that the explosion was a simple industrial accident; in a port warehouse that was storing chemicals. Tianjin is Beijing’s main port, so it does a pretty brisk business in all manner of potentially hazardous substances.

Fires are reportedly under control at the site, but authorities have tried to leave them in a controlled burn, since some fire is actually beneficial right now to the extent that it incinerates any toxic chemicals that were released in the blast. Meanwhile people in the surrounding area are without power and have to worry about secondary risks like ruptured gas mains and the undoubtedly unhealthy smoke coming off of those fires. Plus nearby hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed with all the casualties.

There are a lot of amateur videos floating around purporting to show the explosion (and, look, it’s hard to verify this stuff, but what the hell else could they be showing?), like the one above, and this one:

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for somebody in Tianjin watching that. It must have seemed like their city was under attack.

UPDATE 8/13: The death toll from the Tianjin industrial explosion has risen to at least 50, 12 of them firefighters, with 500 more hospitalized and 71 of those in critical condition. Thousands of Tianjin residents are living in temporary shelters, and a team of chemical specialists from the Chinese military is now in the city to try to cope with the risk posed by the hazardous materials at the site.

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