Massive explosion kills over 70 and injures some 3,500

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The blast, which originated in Beirut’s seaport, sent shockwaves across the city and neighboring areas

by Georgi Azar -Source: Annahar

Massive explosion at Beirut Port. (Annahar Photo)

BEIRUT: A massive blast of 2700 tons of Ammonium Nitrate shook Beirut Tuesday, killing over 60 people and leaving the city in ruins.

The blast, which originated in Beirut’s seaport, sent shockwaves across the city and neighboring areas. The port was leveled while buildings within a 10-mile radius sustain immense damage.

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Moammed Fehmi said that the highly volatile material was stored at a warehouse inside the port six years ago. The material was confiscated from a Moldovian vessel on route to another unknown destination under bizarre circumstances.

President Michel Aoun vowed that those responsible for the negligence would face the “harshest punishments” before calling for a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab meanwhile called for a National Day of Mourning on Wednesday as Lebanon attempts to bounce back from yet another significant blow.

Some 3,700 were wounded as a result of the blast, according to the red cross, with at least 60 of them in critical condition. All ICU patients at Hopital Saint Georges in Beirut died after the blast cut off power to their ventilators, sources told Annahar.

Both Qatar and Iraq pledged to dispatch urgent medical equipment and deployable medical facilities to be installed in Beirut.

The blast also destroyed both Lebanon’s wheat and medicine storage facilities located at the port.

The blast, according to estimates, registered a magnitude of 4,5 on the Richter magnitude scale.

Dozens of Lebanese are still missing, with families and loved ones flocking to social media and local news outlets to inquire about their whereabouts.

Israel denied any responsibility for the blast, instead offering humanitarian and medical assistance through international channels.

U.S President Donald Trump said the huge explosion that shook Beirut appeared to be a “terrible attack.”

“We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of an event … They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”

The blast also ripped through a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) ship docked at the port, wounding a number of its crew with some in critical condition.

UNIFIL said it was transporting the wounded peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals.

“We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support,” Major General Del Col, UNIFIL head of mission and force commander, said in a statement.

 

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