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At least 50 dead and 500 injured as blasts shake Chinese city

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Photo Credit: BBC

Beijing: At least 50 people were killed and over 500 injured as thunderous blasts tore through a warehouse in China’s Tianjin city, triggering frightening leaping flames. The explosions — like an earthquake — gutted over 2,500 cars and caused widespread destruction.

Photo Credit: www.siasat.com
Photo Credit: www.siasat.com

Authorities didn’t say what caused the ear-splitting blasts on Wednesday night but quickly rushed 214 military specialists who handle both nuclear and biochemical materials, media reports said on Thursday.

Twelve fire-fighters were among those killed in the horror in Tianjin, over 100 km from here. A total of 521 people were hospitalized, including 71 who were in critical condition. Over 20 people were missing, Xinhua news agency reported.

Residents of Tianjin — home to 14.72 million people — said the blasts were like a “big fireball” and they felt like a “bomb that just exploded”, forcing them to flee to the streets, terrified. Many were wounded.

More than 1,000 fire fighters and 151 fire engines battled the blaze. Drones were dispatched to the site, said officials.

Zhang, who lives a 10-minute-drive from the site, said the blasts turned the night sky seem like day, reported China Daily.

A video clip showed thick smoke covering the sky, and shortly after fires raged. There were several loud bangs.

At the blasts site, 2,748 imported Volkswagen vehicles burned, covered in layers of ash, China Business News reported.

The explosions were so massive that they triggered seismic activity.

Authorities said fire fighters first arrived at the Tianjin Port on Wednesday night following a report that several containers were on fire.

Zhou Tian, head of Tianjin’s fire department, said the second batch of fire fighters reached after a gap of 10 minutes — and roughly 14 minutes before the first explosion.

The first explosion occurred at about 11.30 p.m. followed by a more powerful blast, and a series of smaller explosions, BBC reported, adding that the blasts caused a massive fireball.

The warehouse contained “dangerous” goods and their volatility made the fire “unpredictable and dangerous to approach”, said the rescuers.

Residents recalled the night’s horror.

Du Wenjun said he never imagined he would see a “mushroom cloud” outside the window of his home.

Zhao Lirong, a 35-year-old businesswoman, was asleep when the blast blew off the windows and doors of her apartment, hitting her head, her son’s neck and her husband’s feet.

Blood stains were splattered on the floors of hospitals that received injured patients.

People rushed onto the streets in their pajamas and frantically made calls to find the well-being of their loved ones.

Most patients suffered burns, bruises, bone fractures and injuries related to the shock-wave.

“It’s all black and smog, I can’t see anything inside. Some of my colleagues had even worse injuries,” an injured fire fighter told Xinhua.

Smog billowed from the site. In a nearby apartment complex, the balconies of many apartment buildings were shattered.

The military also organized 130 men to assist with the rescue operation, including the use of drones and piloting helicopters to observe the site and drop water on the flames.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang vowed to investigate the accident.

Xi ordered authorities to spare no effort to treat the injured, search for the missing and contain the fire.

Li urged authorities to intensify search and rescue operations.

(IANS)

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Research Finds US Power and Influence as a Greater Threat than Russia and China

The list of countries most likely to view the U.S. as a threat is topped by two key allies in the Asia-Pacific: South Korea and Japan.

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US, Donald Trump
"The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. VOA

More people around the world worry about the threat posed by the United States’ use of power and influence than they do about similar threats from Russia or China.

The finding, part of Pew Research Center’s Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey, found a median of 45 percent of more than 27,000 respondents in 26 countries view U.S. power and influence as a threat, compared to 37 percent for Russia and 35 percent for China.

The list of countries most likely to view the U.S. as a threat is topped by two key allies in the Asia-Pacific: South Korea and Japan.

Donald Trump, North Korea
FILE – A man reads a newspaper reporting on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a newspaper stand in Seoul, South Korea, June 12, 2018. VOA

In South Korea, 67 percent of respondents listed the U.S. as a threat. In Japan, it was 66 percent.

Mexico was third, with 64 percent of respondents calling U.S. power and influence a major threat. Previous Pew surveys found views of the U.S. in Mexico nose-dived following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016.

Data published by Pew in October 2018 found 6 percent of Mexicans expressed confidence in Trump’s leadership, due in part to strong opposition to his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

In another four countries — Tunisia, Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia — more than half of the respondents viewed U.S. power and influence as a threat.

And 49 percent of respondents in France and Germany saw the U.S. as a threat.

Pew researchers call the increased wariness of the U.S. the biggest change in sentiment of all the threats tracked by the survey.

In 2013, about 25 percent of survey respondents from 22 countries saw U.S. power and influence as a threat. But by 2017, following Trump’s election, that had risen to 38 percent.

U.S. security policy under Trump has emphasized what officials have described as a new era of great power competition, labeling Russia and China top threats to the U.S. and the world.

Donald Trump, South Korea
In South Korea, 67 percent of respondents listed the U.S. as a threat. Pixabay

During his first day on the job, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said his top concern was, “China, China, China.”

But based on the results of the survey, many people around the world are not convinced.

Poland was the only country where more than half of the respondents saw Russian influence and power a major threat.

Respondents seem to be more worried about China, though only in four countries did more than half of the respondents see China as a danger.

A median of 82 percent of South Koreans surveyed viewed Chinese influence and power as a major threat, followed by 69 percent in Japan, 56 percent in the Philippines, and 51 percent in Australia.

In the U.S., 50 percent of the respondents viewed Russian influence and power as a threat, compared to 48 percent who felt the same about China.

Late last month, the U.S. intelligence community’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report warned of waning U.S. influence across the globe, even among allies, with Russia and China seeking to fill the void.

Many U.S. allies, the report said, are “seeking greater independence from Washington in response to their perceptions of changing U.S. policies on security and trade.”

ALSO READ: US Shutdown Averted, Border Deal Reached

The Pew survey of 27,612 people in 26 countries was conducted between May 14 and Aug. 12, 2018.

It listed the top perceived threats as climate change, the Islamic State terror group, cyberattacks and North Korea’s nuclear program. (VOA)