An Enormous Explosion Rocked Beirut, Blowing Apart Buildings And Killing At Least 100 People
"All the buildings in my block are destroyed," wrote a local reporter. A Red Cross official said more than 4,000 were injured.
An enormous explosion rocked central Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 100 people, shattering buildings across large stretches of the city, and burying bodies under rubble.
A Red Cross official said that 4,000 people had suffered injuries and that the toll could rise further, according to the Associated Press.
The explosion was so powerful it sent a mushroomlike cloud high into the air, with people miles away reporting falling to their knees from the blast wave.
“It was a real horror show. I haven’t seen anything like that since the days of the [civil] war,” witness Marwan Ramadan, who was knocked off his feet by the blast, told the AP.
The source of the explosion, which blew buildings apart and destroyed vehicles as it pulsated across the capital, was not immediately known.
Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon's intelligence agency, said the explosion may have come after highly explosive material was confiscated from a ship and stored in a warehouse in Beirut's port, according to the AP.
In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Hassan Diab spoke of a "dangerous warehouse" that had been in existence for six years, the BBC reported.
"What happened today will not pass without accountability," he said, according to a translation from Al Jazeera. "Those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price."
Leila Molana-Allen, a reporter from France24, tweeted that her apartment was "just blown apart" and "all the buildings in my block are destroyed."
"Everyone covered in glass and blood," reported Molana-Allen on Twitter.
Photos from the scene show people walking dazed and bloody through the streets.
Video from the scene shows a warehouse burning, filling the sky with smoke, and a series of sparks in the middle of the fire.
Then an enormous explosion takes place, moving in a wave and mushroom cloud.
Video from farther away shows the full impact across the inner city.
Crushed cars and trucks were surrounded by rubble near the port area.
Footage from the Daily Star newsroom, an English newspaper in Beirut whose office is located close to the port, showed windows blown apart and the ceiling collapsed.
The incident comes as Beirut is already struggling to provide healthcare and other social services following a jump in COVID-19 cases and the country's economy in turmoil.
On Monday, a doctor had warned that health and hospital services in Lebanon were "beyond its capacity" as the country tries to handle the coronavirus pandemic, with confirmed cases reaching 5,000. Strong lockdown restrictions were reinstated last week after cases spiked.
The economy in Lebanon has collapsed in recent months, with hyperinflation sending many citizens into poverty. Power is only available a few hours a day for most Beirut residents.
Demonstrators had tried to storm the Department of Energy earlier on Tuesday to fight against the power cuts, just hours before the explosion.
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Correction: Protesters had tried to storm Lebanon's Department of Energy on Tuesday. An earlier version misstated the name of the department.