Tianjin warehouse explosion-Sodium Cyanide discovered in air?

Aug 15, 2015- Tianjin, China– News from the site of the #Tianjin warehouse explosion continues to be worse than expected. The number of people hospitalized has steadily increased, crossing 700 or so as per news reports and more worryingly the air in the area has become polluted with highly toxic chemicals, including the deadly Sodium Cyanide!  Initial reports speculated that Calcium Carbide could have been one of the chemicals stored and that trying to douse it with water only worsened the situation, since calcium carbide reacts violently with water, to produce acetylene gas (which is highly explosive- to those who understand hazardous area classification, it is part of the NEC Group A and IEC Group IIC).

Even now it is not clear what chemicals were stored at the site, which is amazing.

After the deadly blast that shook and damaged buildings in more than a radius of 4 kms, several smaller explosions were reported from the same site, which has been off bounds for rescue workers, as it may be still dangerous to enter. After combustion, there may have been several by products, that were more if not equally dangerous and they seem to have combined with  other byproducts, setting off chain reactions of more explosions, releasing even more dangerous and unknown chemical cocktails in the air. Yesterday the wind direction also changed, forcing evacuation of people from areas that were considered not at risk. To handle this newly deteriorating situation, the government has ordered troops trained in chemical warfare to now help mitigate the situation.

This must be one of the worst warehouse accidents in history, where large swathes of the surrounding areas have been damaged and several tens of people killed, many of them firefighters, who probably had no idea of the toxicity and explosivity involved. Hundreds more were injured and the toll may go up as several people are still reportedly missing. This incident shows that warehouse safety should be taken much more seriously, everywhere in the world and not just in China. The massive intensity of the event is best seen with some more pictures from the site, courtesy Peoples Daily. The picture below shows thousands of cars waiting to be shipped, in the Tianjin port area, completely damaged by the blast.

The massive scale of the rescue operation can be seen by the sheer number of people (in this case troops and police) involved.


Here is an image of a severely damaged firetruck. The intensity of the blast can be estimated by the condition of this truck

See the extent of the damaged area, with explosions still taking place.

The incident is a stark reminder to take up # chemical warehouse safety much more seriously than now.

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