On the night of Aug. 12, a fire was reported at a chemical warehouse within a mile of thickly populated residential areas in the port city of Tianjin, China. With the firefight under way, a sudden, rapid succession of increasingly large explosions erupted into fireballs that registered on earthquake scales. As of Aug. 14, the death toll was 56, including 17 firefighters, and over 700 were injured. The explosions seem to have originated from a warehouse owned by Ruihai International Logistics, a company authorized to handle chemicals that explode on contact with water. Some outside specialists suspected that firefighters may have inadvertently contributed to the explosions, however the details of how the massive explosion occurred were still unclear. --By Emily Z. Fortier
Bystander Dan Van Duren captured the rapid succession of explosions on video from a nearby residential building shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015.
(Dan Van Duren/Associated Press)