China suspends, closes 50 websites for ‘inaccurate’ Tianjin explosion reports

Fire and smoke rise at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin, China, August 13, 2015.
Fire and smoke rise at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin, China, August 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy:

(, Aug17, 2015) – China said Aug 15 that it had suspended or permanently closed 50 websites for allegedly spreading rumors after the ‎massive warehouse explosions in north China’s Tianjin city on Aug 12 night. The sprawling warehouse complex stored highly dangerous chemical substances and journalists from some of the affected websites had asked why it was built so close to residential areas while others had given casualty figures and scales of damage which did not conform to official pronouncements.

As of Aug 16 morning, 112 people were confirmed dead and 95 others missing, including 85 firefighters, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency. Besides, 722 people were hospitalized, with 58 of them being stated to be in critical or serious conditions. The explosions were followed by several small blasts over the following days, hampering rescue operations., website of China’s party mouthpiece People’s Daily, on Aug 16 cited the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s cyberspace watchdog, as saying 18 websites were shut down permanently, including and, while 32 others were suspended for one month for their allegedly irresponsible management.

The report said the alleged rumors were mostly related to false estimations or assumptions of the number of people who lost their lives in the explosions. “More than 1,000 people were killed,” it quoted one of the punished websites as saying. Another website was reported to have claimed that “no one survived in the radius of 1,000 meters.”

There were also suggestions that the firefighter’s initial use of water – which reacts dangerously with some hazardous chemicals – to try to fight the fire had contributed significantly to the rise in the level of the disaster and casualties. Some reports were said to have compared the Tianjin explosions to the dropping of atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII.

The warehouse is owned by Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co. Ltd. It was founded in 2011 and is a storage and distribution center of containers of dangerous goods at the Tianjin Port, said China’s official media.


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