Deadly Explosions Rock China

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TIANJIN, CHINA — A series of huge explosions shook the northern Chinese city of Tianjin late Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and injuring hundreds more, according to officials and state media.

The cause was not immediately clear.

Survivors have thought they were experiencing the end of the world. Devastation is everywhere, from the burnt out shells of buildings, to the burnt out bodies of cars, some more than a mile away from the blast.

A dozen firefighters were among the fatalities. Dozens more are missing. More than 500 people are hospitalized, some in critical condition.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts because no one could tell them about the so-called dangerous goods stored at the warehouse at the center of the blasts.

The company that owns the warehouse stores and transports dangerous chemicals. State media say the owners are now in custody.

The first explosion was huge, but the second one was bigger, the equivalent of 21 metric tons of TNT, or a magnitude 2.9 earthquake.

Shock waves blew out windows in apartments a mile away from the blasts, even blowing holes through walls.

Environmentalists fear that the chemicals will continue to put the population at risk from additional explosions from the water from firefighters and from predicted rains, adding more misery to this possibly avoidable tragedy.

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