The survivors of two massive explosions at a warehouse in the Chinese city of Tianjin have told how they had thought they were experiencing an earthquake or a bomb.
The blasts tore through an industrial area at the port late on Wednesday, killing 44 people – including at least a dozen firefighters – and injuring more than 500.
Vast areas of the port, which is the 10th largest in the world, were ruined, shipping containers crumpled, hundreds of new cars destroyed and buildings left as burnt-out shells.
Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, who lives several kilometres from the site of the explosions, said she had rushed downstairs in her house without her shoes on because she “thought it was an earthquake”.
“There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds.”
Ms Zhang said she could see wounded people crying, adding: “I could feel death.”
Han Xiang said: “It was like the earthquake back in 1976 with glass breaking.
“But then there was a huge mushroom cloud so we thought we were also in a war.”
Hairdresser Wu Dejun, 38, said “My first reaction was to run as fast as I could and get down on the ground to save my life.
“When I escaped, I had blood all over me.”
Guan Xiang, 24, who lives four miles from the explosion site, told Reuters: “I was sleeping when our windows and doors suddenly shook as we heard explosions outside.
“I first thought it was an earthquake.”
Vafa Anderson lives with his wife about 1km from the explosion and said the windows were blown out of their apartment “like a bomb”, leaving him injured by flying glass.