A dozen survivors of the Tianjin blasts were invited to recall their first-hand experiences of when the disastrous chemical explosions rocked the city and upended their lives.
The photo above is a 23-year-old survivor named Xiaolong (an alias), who is visually and hearing impaired. His friend helped him explain to reporters that he is from Henan province and was working as a construction worker at a residential complex when the blasts occurred. His head was injured in the chaos.
57-year-old Sun Yuming, with his head and chin wrapped in a bandage, told reporters what he had witnessed:
“I live on the first floor. When the explosion took place, I was standing at the entrance of my home. Seeing the fires in the distance, I thought to help put them out,” said Sun, who worked as a security guard near the site. “But soon after, a second explosion rang out. I hit the ground. Seconds later, my eyes and chin were hit by some flying rubble.”
Survivor Han Lei, 28 years old, lives in Qihangjiayuan and has his own company.
“When it happened, I was sleeping at home,” Han remembered. “My face was wounded when I got up to close the windows. The doors were blown off too.”
Jiang Guiying, 34 years old, is photographed with her son sitting on a bed in her home, less than one kilometer away from the site.
“When the blast happened, I was home with my ten-year-old son,” the Hebei native said. “I immediately grabbed him and rushed down from the 26th floor. I hurt my left leg along the way.”
Chu Guofu, 22 years old, from Henan, said that his back was scaled by a flying chunk of iron propelled by the explosions.
18-year-old A Bin (an alias) is from Guangdong. He is doing an internship in Tianjin. His back and rear were injured in the blasts.
Survivor Yang Anxing, 47 years old, is photographed holding a bandage to his face.
“I was resting at a temporary dorm on a construction site, when I heard a sudden explosion,” the Sichuan native remembers. “I ran to save my wife who was downstairs. Then, the second blast went off and the entire building collapsed right on top of us. Our bodies were covered in blood. She suffered more serious injuries and she’s currently being treated in the hospital.”
“I heard a loud noise, which didn’t sound quite like an earthquake,” remembered Yang Changzhen, who is photographed with a bandage wrapped around his neck. “I thought there was a fight, but after getting out of bed, I found out that it was explosion.”
Hu Dingjia, a 37-year-old migrant worker from Henan said, “My dorm collapsed after the blast. Along with my wife, we rushed out, naked, just in time. Some flying glass cut my mouth. My cellphone, bank cards and 3,000 yuan in cash were left in the dorm, but we just ran for our lives.”
Xia Shuqun, 50, holds a bandage to her cheek. She said she had been on the first floor of her house and her husband had been on the second.
When the explosion happened, her husband barreled down the stairway, picked her up and carried her out of the building. Because of their frantic escape, they lost all of their money.
Sichuan native Yang Ancai said that he was sleeping when the blast occurred. “My wife and I were crushed by the collapsing house,” he remembers. “After spotting a hole, we were able to drag ourselves to safety.”
Yang’s wife Liu Kunying, 44-years-old, added to her husband’s story.
Liu said she was sleeping when the first blast happened. The building collapsed on top of the couple, but her husband was able to pull her through a hole in the wall. Her forehead was injured and required three stitches.
A 21-year-old man, surnamed Ye, who did business close to the blast site said that he is very close when the explosion took place and received numerous burns.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]