An enormous explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday [August 4] has left between 80 and 100 people dead and caused injury to over 4000 others. In videos shared on social media, the blast can be seen flipping cars and shattering windows for kilometres around the centre of the explosion.
Those living in neighbouring Cyprus heard the explosion more than 200 kilometres away.
The Lebanese Red Cross said that every available ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon was being dispatched to Beirut to help patients.
#BeirutBlast #beirutexplosion#Beirut #Lebanon
My heart goes for this African maid, who ignored her own life, and tried to safe her employer’s child.
Not all angels have wings 🕊 #BeirutExplosion #لبنان #Beirut pic.twitter.com/IfkhDN2iOZ
— SANTOSH💞💥 (@santoshkr_08) August 4, 2020
As reported by The New York Times, officials said the detonation was preceeded by a fire at a nearby warehouse that reportedly contained fireworks. This information, however, has not yet been confirmed.
On Wednesday morning [August 5], rescue workers are reportedly searching through rubble for survivors as fires continue to burn. Thus far, there are dozens reported missing, and the numbers are expected to grow.
Please take a minute or two to pray for our brothers & sisters at Beirut, Lebanon.There has been a massive explosion &the blast leave dozens dead & thousands injured.
— mannat (@ShehnazArticles) August 5, 2020
“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told the news network Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
According to Lebanese officials, the blast was caused by the detonation of over 2 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – a chemical most commonly used in both bombs and fertiliser. The chemical was stored in a warehouse at the port, which was the site of the explosion, after it was confiscated from a cargo ship six years ago.
“As head of the government, I will not relax until we find the responsible party for what happened, hold it accountable and apply the most serious punishments against it,” Prime Minister Hassan Diab said.
According to Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, who is the head of Lebanon’s security service, the possibility of explosives being intentionally set off is being investigated. However, he warned against “getting ahead of the investigation” and speculating that the explosion was an act of terror.
At least four of the capital’s major hospitals were so damaged that they are unable to admit patients. A warehouse that was used to store the country’s vaccine supplies has also been razed as a result of the blast.