NEW DELHI: Two major explosions in China’s northern city of Tianjin have killed at least 44 people and injured 500 others, with the tolls likely to rise. The blasts happened in a warehouse storing "dangerous and chemical goods" in the port city of the area. As a huge fireball lit the sky, nearby building and structures collapsed.

China’s President Jinping called for "all-out efforts" to rescue victims and contain the fire. Videos and images emerging from the scene show flames, shattered glass and debris, with hundreds of people in hospitals across the port city.

“In the instruction, Xi noted that the cause of the fire must be found out, family members of the victims should be taken good care of while public order should be maintained. Xi added search and rescue missions must be carried out in an appropriate way to guarantee the safety of the rescuers. Xi also urged governments at all levels to draw a lesson from the accident, insist on the paramount interests of the people, carry out safety checks, enhance their management of dangerous chemicals, ensure production safety and protect the people's lives and property. Premier Li urged authorities to intensify search and rescue. He required that the injured should be treated properly to minimize death from injuries. Li also vowed thorough investigation in the accident and ensure open and transparent information disclosure to the public,” Xinhua reported.

The first explosion occurred at about 3:30 local time (15:30 GMT) on Wednesday and was followed seconds later by another more powerful blast. The China Earthquake Networks Centre said the magnitude of the first explosion was the equivalent of detonating three tonnes of TNT, while the second was the equivalent of 21 tonnes.

It is not confirmed what caused the blast, although State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said a shipment of explosives had detonated. Senior management of Ruihai Logistics, which owns the warehouse where the explosion happened are currently being questioned by authorities.

(Building and hundreds of cars were destroyed. Image credit: BBC)

(Devastation in Tianjin. Image credit: BBC)

Twelve firefighters are reportedly among the dead and 32 of the injured are in critical condition.

The blasts were so massive that they could be seen from satellites in space.

The facility where the blast occurred seems to have been used to store several dangerous and toxic chemicals including butanone, an explosive industrial solvent, sodium cyanide and compressed natural gas. Xianhua identified the owner of the warehouse involved in the first explosion as Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics.

A video posted to YouTube shows the scale of the blast.