Tianjin Blast: The New Multi-Perspective Disaster-Porn News, Brought to You By Smartphones and Drones

By Core77 on August 14, 2015 in Design - Other
0

As Chinese authorities scramble to discover* (or cover up) what caused a massive explosion in Tianjin, the internet is now awash in multi-angle, multi-proximity footage of the terrifying blast. In a reminder of what a strange world we now live in, dozens, perhaps hundreds of people captured the explosion on video; Tianjin reportedly has a population of 15 million people, and smartphones are ubiquitous. (For scale, NYC has about 8.4 million residents.)

Of all the shaky footage I’ve seen, this is the one video that really drove the scale of the multiple blasts home (Warning, language NSFW):

Listening to the audio, I found it somewhat troubling that the girl’s reaction was “Are you getting this?” and the guy says “Fuck yeah, I’m video’ing it” while holding the camera steady. After the secondary blast she again checks to ensure “Are you filming this?” and he reassures her that he is, as if that’s what matters most in that moment. I’m guessing they were just in shock.

They weren’t alone in recording, of course; as the first orange glow caught city residents’ eyes, droves of them rushed to windows while whipping out their phones. So numerous is the footage (all shot vertically, of course) that people have begun compiling synchronized split-screen shots in a terrifying sort of disaster porn:

I can’t understand Mandarin, but I imagine their dialogue is similar to what the Americans or Canadians are saying in the first video.

There is obviously much more footage than the two videos we’ve shown here, but we think this is enough to provide a sense of what happened. If you go looking on the internet for more, don’t look too hard; there are some disturbing clips out there, including CCTV footage that someone uploaded which shows an unfortunate man getting caught in the blast near a bank of glass doors.

And of course, what is a disaster without a drone. This overhead footage shot the following day provides a sense of the on-the-ground devastation:

When technology companies began placing cameras in smartphones, they probably imagined they were merely providing a convenient way for us to take family photos at the beach. I’m guessing they, along with the drone manufacturers, did not foresee that they would change the way we consume news.

___________________________________________________

*The latest report from Reuters indicates that firefighters may have unwittingly provided the fuel for the explosion, while trying to fight the first, smaller fire:

The warehouse [that was the source of the explosion], designed to house dangerous and toxic chemicals, was storing mainly ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate and calcium carbide at the time of the blasts, according to police. The official Xinhua news agency has said several containers in the warehouse caught fire before the explosions.

Chemical safety experts said calcium carbide reacts with water to create acetylene, a highly explosive gas. An explosion could be caused if fire fighters sprayed the calcium carbide with water, they said.