The images coming out of Beirut are horribly reminiscent of the destruction inflicted on the Chinese city of Tianjin by a 2015 warehouse disaster that killed more than 170 people and left thousands injured.
Warning, this may be too graphic for some viewers:
The claim at this time is this is a explosion of ammonium nitrate or ammunition, no one knows for sure, the city center is demolished, hundreds are dead, over a thousand are injured, figures are still coming in.
Lebanon and Israel have both said Israel had nothing to do with this, there is speculation that this could have been a terrorist attack, at this time it is too soon to yet determine who or what was responsible.
The Guardian reports:
- On Tuesday evening in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut, two huge explosions in its port sent an enormous blast wave across the city, killing at least 78 people and injuring thousands more. The scale of the damage is huge, with buildings miles from the port lying in ruin. The blast comes at a terrible time for Lebanon, which is on the brink of financial collapse.
- Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the cause of the explosion was 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a common industrial chemical used in fertiliser and as a component in mining explosives. Diab declared a national day of mourning for the victims of the explosion. The warehouse that authorities claim was the site of the blast had been the subject of warnings going back to 2014, he said. He would “reveal facts” about the warehouse soon, he said, but did not want to pre-empt an investigation.
- Hospitals that are already dealing with the coronavirus crisis were quickly filled beyond capacity, and issued pleas for blood donations and generators to keep the lights going.
- Donald Trump has said the deadly explosion in Beirut “looks like a terrible attack”, contradicting the information coming from Lebanese officials. Asked whether he was “confident” the Lebanon explosion was “an attack and not an accident”, he told reporters: “Well it would seem like it, based on the explosion.” The president added he had met US generals and said they “seem to feel that it was”.
- Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council recommended declaring Beirut a disaster-stricken city, declaring a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibilities to military authorities. A council statement, read live on television, said President Michel Aoun has decided to release 100bn Lebanese pounds in emergency allocations from the 2020 budget.
- Lebanon’s economy minister, Raoul Nehme, said the wheat in Beirut’s port granaries cannot be used and that the ministry lost track of seven employees in the granaries. The minister also told local media that Lebanon will import wheat and added that the country currently had enough wheat until imports resume.
- There was confusion among residents over whether the air had become dangerous to breathe. The US embassy in Beirut released a statement advising people to wear masks and stay indoors, following “reports of toxic gases released in the explosion”. Many people’s windows where shattered by the blast making it difficult to avoid breathing the air outside. The American University of Beirut’s aerosol research lab’s indicators showed air quality levels had returned to “good” by 7pm, however, after showing “moderate” levels of particulate matter an hour earlier.
- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres sent his condolences, saying, he “wishes a speedy recovery to the injured, including several United Nations personnel working in Lebanon.” At least 48 UN staff were injured in the blast, along with 27 of their dependents.
- Governments worldwide have offered support, including the UK, France, Australia, the US, Canada and Israel.
- An Australian citizen has been confirmed dead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “It’s my deep regret to inform you that one Australian has been killed in this horrific blast” but did not reveal further details.
- UK prime minister Boris Johnson offered the UK’s support and said that there were British nationals affected by the incident.
We will post more as the facts come out.