TIANJIN, China -- The Chinese are saying that 50 are dead, but that is sure to rise. At least 700 are injured, dozens are missing. The blast erupted at the seaport, in a warehouse for hazardous materials.
A stunning video taken by a drone gives an aerial view of the aftermath: The skeleton of burned buildings, shipping containers smoldering, acrid smoke belching into the sky.
More than a thousand firefighters were sent in, but they were stopped as authorities tried to figure out which chemicals were burning -- and their risk.
At one building, on the side facing the blast, every single window is blown out. The second explosion had the power of more than 20 tons of TNT.
Kelly Wang and Nathan Liu didn't have time to collect their belongings. "My home destroyed," she said. "No home to go to."
She described the explosion: "Everybody just ran out," she said. "We saw fire and a mushroom cloud. It's terrifying. Very terrifying."
Victims filled hospitals. Many had wounds from flying glass.
The blasts were so powerful they registered as earthquakes and produced fireballs so big they were seen in outer space, pictured as a growing green mass in a sea of white clouds.
The explosions burned hundreds of new cars to their shells.
Some pictures and posts about the blasts were deleted from social media by Chinese censors as authorities tried to control the narrative. Officials tried to stop a CBS News camera crew from shooting in front of a hospital.
Police blocked access to the blast site. Residents were not allowed to return home and local TV stations gave little coverage to the story.
There is no word yet on what caused the disaster, but calls for accountability go all the way up to China's president Xi Jinping, who has demanded severe punishment.