VIDEO: Explosion in China leaves over 400 people injured, at least 44 dead

This photo from Instagram shows an explosion in Tianjin, China on Aug. 13, 2015. (https://instagram.com/p/6SgXRTHLKA/)

TIANJIN, China (AP) — Huge explosions in a warehouse district sent up massive fireballs that turned the night sky into day, killing at least 44 people and injuring hundreds in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials and witnesses said Thursday.

Twelve of the dead were from among the more than 1,000 firefighters sent to fight the blaze set off by the explosions shortly before midnight, the Tianjin municipal government said. It said 520 people were being treated in hospitals, 66 of them with serious injuries. It gave no figure for the missing.

The blasts, originating at a warehouse for hazardous material, turned buildings in the immediate vicinity into charred, skeletal shells while shattering windows up to several miles away.

“I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on,” said Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, whose home is several kilometers from the blast site. “Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it.”

Zhang said she could see wounded people weeping. She said she did not see anyone who had been killed, but “I could feel death.”

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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