Counting the economic cost of Tianjin explosion

VW, Renault among badly hit firms

Vehicles burnt in Tianjin’s warehouse explosion on August 14th. Photograph: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Vehicles burnt in Tianjin’s warehouse explosion on August 14th. Photograph: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

 

One of the most powerful images from last week’s devastating explosion in Tianjin was the charred remains of rows and rows of cars lined up in logistics centres near where the blast took place.

Tianjin is very much a commercial hub and the Binhai district is an innovation centre in a city which is ambitious and forward-looking. Assessing the economic cost of the explosion depends very much on how long it takes to clean up the vast site.

It is the world’s 10th biggest port by container volume, and it deals with more containers than Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp or Los Angeles. Seven of the top 10 biggest ports are in China.

Tianjin handles enormous quantities of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.

At least 10,000 new cars were destroyed in the blast, according to the business website Caixin, with Renault and Volkswagen suffering the most. At least 1,000 of 6,000 cars at a facility near where the explosions took place were destroyed, Renault said, while VW said 2,748 cars of different models were destroyed in the blasts. The rows of gutted VW Beetles was one of the most powerful images from the incident.

The disaster has also slowed down shipping at the port. Ships carrying oil and “hazardous products” were barred from the port and none were allowed enter the central part of the port while emergency work continued.

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