Beirut, Lebanon — A strong explosion shook the Lebanese capital today, on which a large column of reddish smoke filled the sky. Originated in a tank in the port of Beirut, the National News Agency (ANN) reported the area already had explosive in the area. According to the state agency, a fire started near the port’s wheat silos, in a warehouse containing seized explosives, which caused a strong explosion that could be felt throughout the city and its suburbs. A gigantic mushroom cloud was visible several kilometers away.
The authorities of the country’s health ministry confirmed that they have already recorded at least 27 deaths and 2,500 injuries as a result of the explosion. Reporters at the scene report bloodied people and others trapped under the rubble. The Lebanese chain LBCI specified that the substance that exploded was sodium nitrate, used as fertilizer and also to produce explosives, which had been confiscated from a ship a year ago.
Here are videos showing various angels of the explosion:
Unfortunately, the number od deceased invidiuals has now increased to at least 100 and 4,000 wounded. According to Lebanese Prime Minister Hasan Diab, the explosions have been caused by the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that were stored in the port of the Lebanese capital without security measures.
“It is inadmissible that a shipment of ammonium nitrate, estimated at 2,750 tons, has been in a warehouse for six years, without preventive measures. This is unacceptable and we cannot remain silent on this issue,” said the Prime Minister before the Higher Defense Council, according to statements quoted by a spokesman at a press conference.
Furthermore, between 200.00 and 250.00 people have been left homeless. The damage caused by the deflagration is estimated at between $3 billion and $5 billion, according to Beirut Governor Maruan Abboud.
“It is a catastrophe in every way,” the minister lamented when questioned by Lebanese television when visiting a hospital in the capital. “The hospitals in the capital are all full of wounded people,” he stressed, before asking that other wounded be transferred to hospital centers located on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital. Diab has asked for international help to deal with the situation, given that the hospitals are collapsed.
The deflagration was registered in the afternoon in an area of the port of the Lebanese capital, in an area where there was an explosives warehouse, as reported by the National News Agency (ANN). “It appears that the explosion has occurred in a warehouse with highly explosive material confiscated for years,” Lebanese General Security Director Ibrahim Abbas said, without giving further details.
Many people have joined to ask for help for the country. Among them, Pope Francis recalled the victims of the Beirut explosions on Wednesday and asked for international help.
“Yesterday in Beirut, in the port area, massive explosions caused dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries and many serious destructions. We pray for the victims and their families; and we pray for Lebanon so that it can face this tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, to overcome the serious crisis that it is going through, “he said.