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Massive blast rocks Beirut

At least 100 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured in the blast that damaged half the city

August 4, 2020 at 4:56 pm

Two explosions, which were felt as far away as Cyprus, struck Beirut today razing the city’s port, shattering windows, and destroying nearby buildings.

Official reports initially claimed the explosions were a result of fireworks that had malfunctioned, but later said the blasts were caused by a cache of highly explosive ammonium nitrate which was confiscated more than a year ago and stored in a warehouse in Beirut’s port.

Videos circulating online show huge clouds of smoke visible across the city, with a large red and black plume seen by the sea.

In the video below, from the explosion in the port, smaller explosions, possibly fireworks, can be seen in the smoke plume, before the large explosion.

At least ten people have been reported dead, including Nizar Najarian, the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Kataeb party, while hundreds more are thought to have been wounded in the blast.

Pictures and videos circulated online showing possible victims amidst hundreds of people covered in blood.

Local reports showed hospitals, which were already struggling as a result of the economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic, were overwhelmed by the influx of patients. In one case, in an eastern area of Beirut, doctors were pictured treating the wounded in the car park.

Local media reported Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s wife, children, and advisors were injured in the blast.

Diab has since declared tomorrow a national mourning day.

Meanwhile, Israel has denied involvement in the explosion, Reuters cited an Israeli official as saying. While the White House spokesperson said the US administration was monitoring the situation closely.

Israel has offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon after a massive explosion rocked its capital Beirut on Tuesday, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said, reports Reuters.

“Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,” a written statement from Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

Lebanon: We are prepared to defend against Israel’s attacks