Shattered windows and cordoned-off buildings - these scenes greeted workers in Tianjin a day after a series of explosions that rocked the city on Wednesday (Aug 12).
The death toll from the blasts at a chemical warehouse in the northeastern city of Tianjin has hit 50. More than 700 have been injured, and there are fears toxic chemicals have been released into the air.
"At that time I was very scared,” said Tianjin resident Huo Xingqiang. “I didn't know what happened, I thought it was an earthquake. And when I came to work the next day, I saw the extent of the damage."
Hours after the blasts, plumes of smoke are still visible in the air. Police have said that their priority is on search and rescue efforts and not on putting out the fire as they want the chemicals to burn up completely.
State media said the blaze was brought under control by Thursday evening. But residents fear that toxic chemicals have been released into the air. Official Chinese reports have blamed the blasts on hazardous chemicals stored in a warehouse that Ruihai International Logistics owns.
"I'm quite concerned about the air, because there are definitely toxic elements,” said Mr Yuan, another Tianjin resident. “There’s no point taking precautions, as it's not practical to wear a mask either."
But the head of Tianjin's Environment Protection Bureau said that while poisonous and harmful chemicals have been detected in the air, they were not at excessively high levels.
"Currently the winds are blowing in the southwest direction, and the Bohai Sea is just a few kilometers downwind, and there aren't many people there,” said Wen Wurui, Head, Tianjin Environment Protection Bureau.
Meanwhile, the blasts have left thousands of residents homeless and authorities are working to find temporary shelter for them.
"We've selected 10 schools nearby to provide shelter for those affected,” said Zhang Yong, District Chief, Tianjin Binhai New Area. “Currently, 3,500 people have been put up in shelters. We anticipate that by Thursday night, we'll be able to house 6,000 people in the shelters."
Chinese President Xi Jinping said those responsible for the blasts will be severely punished.