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China explosion torches thousands of VW, Renault cars

At least 50 people were killed in the series of explosions at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin.

Several large explosions in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin have killed at least 50 people and torched thousands of new vehicles.

The disaster reportedly occurred around midnight at a chemical warehouse facility in the port city, located approximately 75 miles from Beijing. The first explosion was recorded by seismic instruments at a magnitude of 2.3, while the larger second explosion measured 2.9, equivalent to 21 tons of TNT, according to CNN.

The enormous blasts ignited nearby warehouses, including several used to store new vehicles entering or leaving the country. A Bloomberg report suggests the city is one of China's largest automobile shipping ports.

Approximately 1,500 Renault cars are said to have been damaged by fire. Total retail value for the destroyed inventory is estimated to surpass 210 million yuan (~$33 million USD).

Volkswagen also allegedly sustained inventory losses in the inferno, with damage to several thousand vehicles, according to a Chinese news report cited by Jalopnik. A source claims the total includes several hundred Beetles and more than 1,000 Touaregs, among other models.

All of the vehicles are presumably insured against such losses. Unfortunately, the human death toll is expected to rise. Reports suggest scores of people were critically injured, while hundreds were admitted to hospitals for lesser injuries.

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