SHANGHAI – Explosions that sent huge fireballs through China’s Tianjin port have disrupted the flow of cars, oil, iron ore and other items through the world’s 10th largest port.
The blast sent shipping containers tumbling into one another, leaving them in bent, charred piles. Rows of new cars, lined up on vast lots for distribution across China, were reduced to blackened carcasses.
Ships carrying oil and “hazardous products” were barred from the port Thursday, the Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration said on its official microblog. It also said vessels were not allowed to enter the central port zone, which is near the blast site.
Tianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, moving more containers than the ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Los Angeles. It handles vast quantities of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.
Australian mining giant BHP Billiton said the blast had disrupted iron ore shipments and port operations, but had not damaged any iron ore at the port. “We are working with our customers to minimize any potential impact,” it said in a statement Thursday.
A spokesman for Rio Tinto said the metals and mining company had four vessels waiting to anchor at Tianjin, none of which were affected by the blast, and that “there is no impact” on its operations. All personnel are safe, he added.
Volkswagen spokeswoman Larissa Braun said vehicles at a storage facility near the blast were damaged. “We will ship cars from our storage facilities at other ports to ensure our dealers have adequate supply,” she said. Volkswagen’s component plant, 20 kilometres (12 miles) away, suffered no damage, though some employees had minor injuries, she added.
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