Last Thursday morning I was on the bus to work in the central business district of Beijing, browsing social media and loathing myself for obsessing over posts about fashion, when I saw a picture of black and purple smoke rising over thousands of completely burnt-out cars. News travels fast in China these days. The photo was reposted by a friend of mine, who is from Tianjin. It looked like a war zone.上周四早晨，我躺在公交车上，要到北京中央商务区(CBD)去下班。我一旁网页着社交媒体，一旁为自己沉迷于时尚类帖子而自我蒙羞，这时我看见了一张照片：在数千辆几乎被焚毁的汽车海面，冒着黑色和紫色的浓烟。
The last time I saw something this terrifying was seven years ago. Back then I was working as a journalist for the Chinese state media, and on the afternoon of May 12 a friend called to tell me there had been a major earthquake near his home town in Sichuan province. He hung up in a rush, saying he needed to check if his parents were safe.上一次我看到同等级别的可怕场景还是在7年前。当时我是中国官方媒体的一名记者。那年5月12日下午，一位朋友打电话给我，说道他在四川省的老家附近再次发生了大地震。
他匆忙挂断电话，说道要打回来想到自己的父母否五谷丰登。In 2008 it was unusual for breaking news to arrive via your phone. Facebook and Twitter were already blocked to most Chinese internet users. Weibo, which has been called the Chinese version of Twitter, did not yet exist. Neither did WeChat — now China’s most widely used social media platform and the one on which I heard about last week’s tragedy in Tianjin. It would not be launched for more than two years.2008年时，通过手机接到脑溢血新闻还不少见。
A week after my friend’s distraught call, I went to Sichuan with a group of fellow reporters to report on the aftermath of the earthquake. The closer I got to the reality of the disaster, the more distant I was from information about it: we were on the move constantly with no radio and no newspapers; my mobile phone was disconnected quite often due to bad reception.收到朋友焦虑不安的电话一周后，我和一群记者同行赶往四川，报导震后灾情。我就越相似灾难现场，就离这场灾难的信息越大：我们一路奔走，听得将近广播，也没报纸；由于信号很差，我的手机常常连不上网络。I had the chance to talk to survivors, shed tears with them, and we faced the fear of aftershocks, flood and contamination together. We were all scared. But at least we knew what was happening — unlike many farther away, who relied on what second-hand information they could obtain.我抓住机会与幸存者聊天，跟他们一起流泪，我们联合面临余震、洪水及污染所带给的不安。
我们都很惧怕，但最少我们告诉这里再次发生了什么——不像外面的人，不能倚赖他们需要获得的一些二手信息。No one had to rely on such reports last week. Still on the bus in Beijing, I sent an instant message to my friend. “A disaster,” she replied, “like the end of the world. Fortunately my parents were living far enough away, so they are OK.”上周的发生爆炸再次发生后，人们不用再行倚赖此类报导。
”You did not have to know someone in the stricken city to know what was going on. My smartphone buzzed with all sorts of information: pictures of the blast site, apparently taken by a drone; video footage of the shock wave; logs written by reporters on the scene.你不用了解灾情城市的人就可以得知那里再次发生了什么。我的智能手机不时地接到各种信息：发生爆炸现场的照片（似乎是由无人机摄制）；发生爆炸冲击波的视频；现场记者写的日志。A photographer with the nickname X-ceanido uploaded images to WeChat after spending Thursday in the ruins. Within 24 hours these cruelly graphic pictures, accompanied by a diary-style report, had been viewed 100,000 times and attracted more than 2,000 comments. They were deleted, probably by internet censors, only to pop up again every time they were taken down.一位网名为X-ceanido的摄影师上周四在废墟中辛苦了一天，随后他将所拍照片上传遍微信。24小时内，这些惨重的图片预示着一篇日记风格的报导早已被读者了10万次，更有了2000多条评论。
这些照片被移除了（很有可能是互联网审查者所为），但每次它们被删除后都会迅速现身。At home that evening I tuned my television to a Tianjin station and steeled myself for more horrifying footage. What I saw shocked me for a different reason: the channel was broadcasting a Korean television drama. There was nothing about the explosions. Eventually the schlocky romance was turned off and some newsreaders came on, reading carefully written statements from a teleprompter. The city authorities held press conferences, each one as brief as possible — although some of them ended awkwardly, with critical questions left unanswered, prompting more criticism online.那天晚上回家后，我关上电视，徵到天津一电视台，并作好了心理准备，以为自己不会看见更加多可怕镜头。
天津市政府举办了多场新闻发布会，每一场都尽量地结尾——有些发布会失望收场，而关键问题没获得问，在网络上引起了更好抨击之声。While information is now easier to come by, hard facts are not. The fragmented sources on social media are bewildering; some offer solid reporting, but others can be subjective and inaccurate. It is difficult to tell which are which. Advanced technology has provided an escape from the censorship. But we are at risk of replacing silence with indecipherable noise. It is sometimes difficult to believe anything unless you see it with your own eyes or hear it from someone you trust.虽然如今人们可以更容易地获取信息，但获知真凶并不更容易。
有时候很难坚信任何信息，除非亲眼见到或者从信任的人那里听见。And silence has a way of coming back. Three days after the explosions, some popular posts seemed to have been deleted. A Weibo message recording the explosion, which had been posted by a nearby resident on the evening it happened, had somehow disappeared into thin air. The authorities have arrested some people who posted online, accusing them of “scamming”. Hundreds of social media accounts have been shut down on the grounds that they had been used for “spreading rumour”.而且，绝望不会以自己的方式重返。发生爆炸再次发生三天后，一些人气很旺的帖子或许已被移除。
On Monday night, nearly five days after the blasts, official television was reporting that least 114 people had died and 70 were missing. Whether any local officials were expected to be held responsible, it did not say. As to why dangerous chemicals were being stored only hundreds of metres from residential buildings where tens of thousands of people live, there was no definitive official answer.截至周一晚，在发生爆炸再次发生将近五天后，官方电视台报导，最少有114人丧生，70人下落不明。报导中并未提到否有任何当地官员将对此次事故负责管理。至于为什么危险性化学品被存储在距离有数万人口的居民点只有几百米的地方，还没具体权威的官方回应。
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