Tianjin天津 port explosions August 12th.
I first heard the news 4 hours after the two blasts (9.30pm local time on the 12th) through social media site Facebook. My initial thought on hearing the news was to check all my friends were ok, but saying that China being 7 hours ahead of England I knew many would be asleep and safe as are in other cities. However the name Tianjin seemed somewhat familiar and I couldn’t pinpoint why.
Yesterday I was scrolling through weChat, a platform in which I communicate with my Chinese friends, viewing many horrific photos and videos including dead bodies and footage from nearby the site which surely killed the person filming. It was hard to watch. It made me think about life and how fragile it is and that it’s not in our control. No one could have foretold and predicted this event. Life is unknown to us.
I then saw a post from a hometown friend who had recently gone back to China expressing their concern, reaching out to people on weChat. She was advertising hotels and phone numbers people could call. I instantly remembered that her hometown is Tianjin.
I sent her a message and she told me she is alright but her cousin is injured. He was living in the nearest residence reported in the news. The blasts were so horrible she said. It’s reported that the first explosion was the equivalent to detonating three tonnes of TNT and the magnitude of the second, seven times that, equal to 21 tonnes of TNT (BBC News). Her family moved to another district a couple of months ago and she did not feel anything but her cousin’s family was about to sleep. He apparently saw the flame, and immediately fled towards the bathroom, but still got injured. Otherwise he would have been dead if he was asleep in his bed.
It is reported that 700 people were injured, 71 critically and 55 people died (BBC). Whether the death toll includes the firefighters on site at the time dealing with the fire is uncertain. 17 firefighters were killed and 18 others are still missing, one of them a brother of her friend.
The port is a major distribution centre of dangerous cargo container business, which operates container unpacking, packing, transit transport etc in an area of 46226.8m2. (Ruihai Logistics). Fire crews were already on site when the explosions took place dealing with a ‘fire’. They were not informed that this container fire could potentially cause an explosion due to hazardous cargo being stored. The company’s website says these goods include compressed gas, flammable liquid and toxic chemicals - some of which become highly explosive when mixed with water.
Many experts are now controlling the site due to the unknown environmental and health causes of the explosions. My friend now says the city is running in order and many volunteers are helping. All the hotels in the city have opened their doors freely and are providing food and drink to the victims. She thanks God that her cousin’s family is safe now! He is now at home with her as her Aunt is a nurse and able to take care of him. They insisted out patient because they want to spare the precious resources to more severely injured victims.
I think lessons need to be learned in that safety regulations need to be tightened, especially in the BRIC countries with the fast advance in their economic development. I also think that communication needs to be better improved between people in order for the right precautions to take place.
It is also good to see that in times of need people can pull together to help their fellow neighbours and be generous with what they are giving. We are all humans at the end of the day. We are all equal and we all make mistakes.
Please pray for the victims of the Tianjin explosions and for those who have lost their lives, especially those firefighters. Everyday firefighters risk their lives in order to save others and we don’t thank them enough. Thank you.