As we’ve noted before, Chinese BBS forums are probably the best way to a) track current news in China; b) get a sense of which breaking news items people want to discuss; and c) collect a wide range of commentary on very current events.
Case in point: Yesterday, May 17, there was a massive explosion at a port in Changsha city–it was a container of fireworks. According to a short piece in Shanghai Daily, “the blast was so violent that houses 2 kilometers away from the explosion were damaged.” A search on Google News revealed only 2 short reports in English, one noted above in Shanghai Daily, the other at Xinhuanet.com.
A few hours after the blast, an experienced XinhuaNet.com BBS poster (he’s posted over 800 topics) appears to be passing on pretty direct information of the scene, showing photos of buildings with their windows blasted out and warehouses whose metal doors are uniformly bubbled out from the force of the explosion. There’s discussion of how dangerous fireworks are, how they can be transported more safely, and even one mainland Chinese slamming a comment from another user who posted with the complicated Chinese characters used outside of the mainland: “it’s obvious from the characters you use that you’re not mainland Chinese…coming with your fake sympathy…”
Approximately 60,000 people have viewed the post, but only 56 had posted comments. There’s really not that much to say about this kind of an accident I guess…but in the absence of unfettered 24 TV news services, BBS forums are the fastest way to get breaking local news from around China.