Massive explosion rips through Lebanese capital Beirut, killing 50 and injuring thousands

BEIRUT: A huge explosion in port warehouses near central Beirut killed more than 50 people, injured over 2,750 and sent shock-waves that broked windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital. 

Authorities estimate the death toll could rise after Tuesday’s blast as emergency crews dug through the rubble to rescue people and evacuate the dead. It was the most powerful eruption to hit Beirut in years.

Preliminary information The Lebanese interior minister said the explosives, which were seized several years ago, were stored at the port. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, has not denied any role and offered assistance.

“What we are seeing is a big disaster,” George Ketani, head of the Lebanese Red Cross, told broadcaster Maiden. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

Hours after the blast after 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), the port district is still on fire, the helicopter displaying orange lightning in the night sky and ambulance sirens ringing across the capital.

Security sources said the victims were not taken outside the city for treatment as Beirut hospitals were full of injuries. Red Cross ambulances from the north and south of the country and East Bekaa Valley were called for help.

 

The facade of a building is seen shattered following a massive explosion in Beirut’s port. 

The blast was so great that some residents of the city, which has huge shelling memories of the 1975 to 1990 civil war, thought the earthquake had occurred. Nervous, crying and injured people walked the streets for relatives.

“I assure you that this catastrophe will not happen without accountability,” Prime Minister Hassan Diab told the nation.

Details about the “dangerous warehouse” will be revealed in his televised speech by “those who pay the responsible price”.

Interior Minister Al Jadeed told TV that the port has been stockpiling ammonium nitrate since 2014.

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