China’s Xinhua news agency reported the explosion was caused by flammables and explosives at a container terminal. The agency said the blast set off a number of other explosions at buildings nearby.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said nearby tower blocks were without power, the BBC reported.
Video of the explosion has quickly spread through social media, including Weibo.
Twitter user @freewill89 said a “powerful blast” rocked Tianjin’s Binhai New Area, that faces a coastal area and the Yellow Sea that separates China from the Korean peninsula.
The emerging business district includes a new airport completed in 2012 and is home to 219 Fortune 500 companies, according to China Daily.