Surviving firefighter recalls moment of horror in China tragedy
TIANJIN, China — Twenty-seven-year-old Yang Kekai couldn’t get his terrible experience out of his head when he arrived at the blast scene in North China’s Tianjin on Wednesday night with 30 more colleagues as he lay in a hospital bed recovering.
“Many containers are stacked together and all on fire, covering a land area of 70 square meters and burning with ten-meter-high flames,” recalled Yang, who is among the first batch of firefighters to arrive at the site after answering a fire emergency call at 10:30pm.
Standing in formation, Yang and his fellow firefighters started using hydraulic guns to fight the flames. Yang was about 60 meters away from the fire point, which was only 30 meters away from the firefighter who was nearest the firepoint.
“We managed to control the spread of the fire, but the containers exploded unexpectedly 15 minutes after we started spraying water.”
“I subconsciously bent forward and supported my body with both hands on the ground; I heard the noise of ‘bang bang’ when burning container debris struck my back.”
“Before I recollected myself, more than ten seconds later another blast happened,” said Yang, whose body was swept away by the shock wave because the second blast was even stronger.
“When I was flying in the air, my heart skipped a beat and I thought I was finished,” said Yang, who later fell heavily on a green belt five or six meters away.
Without knowing how long had passed, the young man regained his consciousness with blood streaming down his forehead and container pieces pouring down, and saw a pile of containers ten meters away.
Yang struggled crawling toward the remaining bunker in the devastated site and found several colleagues who were capable of moving. Together, holding onto each other, they limped away from the deadly blast site.
Lying in bed, Yang said he was lucky because he suffered only cuts and bruises.
“I called my wife at noon and told her that I’m fine and not to worry about me,” said Yang, whose wife is six months pregnant.