Tianjin Explosions Damage 1,500 Renault Cars; Volkswagens

Renault SA said explosions at a hazardous-chemicals storage site in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin badly damaged about 1,500 of its cars in storage.

The damaged Renault cars have an estimated retail value of at least 210 million yuan ($33 million), based on the price of the cheapest model sold by Renault in China. The vehicles were in a warehouse, which caught fire and suffered severe damage, Renault said by e-mail.

Volkswagen AG also reported damage to vehicles in one of its warehouses at the port, which was located close to the site of the explosions, according to Larissa Braun, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the company.

The automaker is assessing the extent of the damage and will ensure timely deliveries to dealers and customers via the ports of Shanghai and Guangzhou, she said.

Tianjin is one of China’s biggest automobile shipping ports and a gateway to the northern parts of the country. Automakers shipping cars to the country would unload the vehicles and store them at the port before sending them off to various parts of the country. The city of more than 15 million people is situated about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Beijing and connected to the capital by high-speed train.

The two blasts late Wednesday night have killed at least 44 people and disrupted operations at the port. Toxic material spewed into the air and shattered windows in buildings for kilometers around. A total of 520 people were hospitalized, including 66 with critical injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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