Tianjin Port Explosion, 12 August 2015 - what we know so far
According to police, the warehouse in Tianjin's port was designed
to house dangerous and toxic chemicals, and was storing mainly
ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate and calcium carbide at the time
of the blasts.
The official Xinhua news agency has said several containers in the
warehouse had caught fire before the blasts.
Lei Jinde, the deputy propaganda department head of China's fire
department, a part of the Ministry of Public Security, said that
the first group of fire fighters on the scene had used water.
Calcium carbide reacts with water to create acetylene, a highly
explosive gas. The explosion could have been caused by fire
fighters spraying the calcium carbide with water. The fire fighters
did not know if the calcium carbide had already exploded or where
it was located in the warehouse.
David Leggett, a chemical safety expert based in California,
told Reuters the acetylene explosion could have detonated the
ammonium nitrate. The two blasts were about 30 seconds apart, the
second much larger than the first. "In my mind, the presence of
ammonium nitrate makes it easier to explain the level of
devastation," he said.
Xinhua identified the owner of the warehouse as Tianjin Dongjiang
Port Ruihai International Logistics. The Tianjin Maritime Safety
Administration said the company violated packaging standards during
a safety inspection two years ago. Of 4,325 containers that were
checked, five failed the inspection because packaging was
sub-standard, according to a report posted on the administration's
website in January 2014.
TT Club's Peregrine Storrs-Fox highlights the crucial importance
of declaring and handling dangerous goods correctly -
Identifying dangerous goods accurately: Lessons from