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” have been barred from the port and vessels aren’t 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 and the seventh largest in China, 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 minimise any potential impact,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
The overall economic impact of the blast will hinge, in part, on how long the clean-up takes.
The government has so far said little about the cause of the blast.
Tianjin authorities suspended firefighting on Thursday so chemical experts could survey for hazardous materials and the local Environmental Protection Bureau said it had identified toluene and chloroform in the air.
Ruihai Logistics, which owns the warehouse that exploded, said on its website that it stored toxic chemicals including sodium cyanide and toluene diisocyanate, as well as compressed natural gas, flammable liquids and flammable solids.