A new tragedy has unfolded in the Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, with a massive explosion ripping the city’s port area on August 3, sending large mushroom-shaped clouds of smoke across the capital city. The blast has resulted in the death of at least 78 people and more than 4,000 people stand injured, with many still missing.
The blast has also resulted in many nearby buildings levelled to the ground. Beirut’s port area is home to warehouses that contain explosives, but the source of the blast is still unknown.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, in a statement said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at a port warehouse without safety measures, “endangering the safety of citizens”.
The effect of the blast was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away, and registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in the Lebanese capital.
Footage of the blast has emerged and is being circulated on social media as locals filmed large plumes of smoke rising from near a multi-story building in the port before the explosion occurred. Several eyewitnesses described a shower of glass descending from the air in the immediate vicinity of the explosion.
The armed forces have been called in for rescue operations and local hospitals are struggling to cope with the numbers of casualties.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to the Presidency’s Twitter account. Lebanon’s Internal Security Chief, Abbas Ibrahim, touring the port area, said he would not pre-empt investigations.