A series of huge explosions have rocked the Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least 50 people including at least a dozen fire fighters.
City officials said the death toll rose on Thursday afternoon, adding that more 700 people were injured in the blast. According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, 71 of those were in a critical condition.
Images and video from the blast site showed a plume of fire rising up to 100m into the air, with local residents saying it felt like there had been an "earthquake" or "an atomic bomb".
The incident began with reports of a fire at a warehouse filled with "dangerous" chemicals in the densely-populated city.
With large numbers of firefighters already on the scene, the site erupted in explosions. China's earthquakes centre said the first blast had the power of three tonnes of TNT, and a second was equal to 21 tonnes.
More than 1,000 firefighters and 140 fire engines continued to battle to bring at least four distinct fires under control on Thursday morning, Xinhua reported.
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Tianjin is the 10th largest port in the world, and the city has more than 14 million residents. Locals reported shockwaves that shattered glass more than two kilometres away, while the blast itself was seen by satellites from space. Even the US Geological Survey registed the event as seismic.
Tianjin Explosion - In Pictures
Tianjin Explosion - In Pictures
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A man wearing a mask walks past overturned shipping containers after explosions hit the Binhai new district in Tianjin. Two massive explosions caused by flammable goods ripped through an industrial area in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin late on Wednesday, killing 17 people and injuring around 400, official Chinese media reported.
A screen grab from taken from state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) footage on August 12, 2015 shows a huge explosion in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin.
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Excavators work near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianji
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A man who was injured following the massive explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin receives medical treatment at a hospital.
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View of the destruction after explosions in the port area of Tianjin, northern China,
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A emergency worker is lifted by a crane as smokes plumes from the explosion site in Binhai new district in Tianjin
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A damaged truck is seen on a highway near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin
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Flames rise as a banner in the background reads "no illegal operations" at the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, witnesses described a fireball from the blasts ripping through the night sky.
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Smoke rises from shipping containers after explosions at Binhai new district in Tianjin, China.
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Firefighters take a break after trying to put fire down at the explosion site in Binhai new district in Tianjin,
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A survivor talk on his mobile phone at the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin
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Firefighter's truck and other rescue vehicles are pictured as smoke rises among shipping containers after explosions at Binhai new district in Tianjin
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Damaged cars are seen near the site of explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin
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A paramilitary policeman wears a mask as he blocks the road leading to evacuated residential area and the explosion site in Binhai new district in Tianjin
"I was sleeping when our windows and doors suddenly shook as we heard explosions outside. I first thought it was an earthquake," Guan Xiang, who lives 7 km (4 miles) away from the explosion site, told Reuters by telephone.
Video posted on YouTube from what appeared to be an apartment building some distance from the scene showed an initial blast followed by a second, much bigger, explosion. Shockwaves hit the building seconds later.
"Our building is shaking. Is this an atomic bomb?" said a frenzied voice inside.
Local authorities said police have now arrested the head of the company involved, Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics.
The company's website said it was approved by the government to handle "dangerous goods" including butanone, an explosive industrial solvent, sodium cyanide and compressed natural gas.
The government said that despite the destruction, the port itself was operating normally.
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