Night turned into day in TIANJIN, China as huge explosions in a warehouse district sent up massive fireballs that killed at least 44 people and injured hundreds.
Fatalities included 12 of the more than 1000 firefighters sent to fight the blaze.
The blasts disintegrated buildings in the immediate vicinity and shattered windows up to several miles away.
Beijing News reported there was some unidentified yellow foam on the ground at the site, although it was not clear if this was contamination or part of the fire-fighting efforts.
Local police said an initial blast took place at shipping containers in a warehouse for hazardous materials owned by Ruihai Logistics, a company which claims to be approved to handle such materials.
Senior management of the company has been detained by authorities, and President Xi Jinping has demanded severe punishment for anyone found responsible for the explosions.
520 people are being treated in hospitals, 66 with serious injuries.