Huge explosions has occurred in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, with at least 135 persons confirmed dead and about 5,000 injured.
According to Sky News, about 300,000 people have been rendered homeless, and the government and people of Lebanon are still feeling the shock waves from the explosions .
Explosions in Beirut, Lebanon
As it happened
President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of the chemical – used as a fertiliser and in explosives – which was left in a warehouse for six years.
The head of Beirut’s port, Hassan Koraytem, said the highly-explosive material came to be stored there six years ago because of a court order, according to local news media reports.
The general manager of the port reportedly said that the customs department and state security had asked authorities for the material to be exported or removed, but “nothing happened”.
Eyewitness accounts coming from Beirut suggested that the incident first started with a small fire outbreak, before the explosions occurred. The local people were experiencing incidents of shattering glasses in cars and shop windows, buildings shaking, before the loud explosion came.
Miles from the port, balconies were knocked down, windows shattered, streets were covered with glass and bricks and lined with wrecked cars. Motorcyclists picked their way through traffic, carrying the injured.
The blast was heard 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
Scenes from the Beirut explosions
The blast came at a time when Lebanon’s economy is facing collapse, hit both by a financial crisis and coronavirus restrictions. Many have lost jobs, while the worth of their savings has evaporated as the currency has plunged in value against the dollar. The result has thrown many into poverty.
It also comes amid rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon’s southern border.
It was the latest chapter for a country that has suffered a 15-year civil war, repeated conflict with Israel, political assassinations and various other crises including the current unprecedented financial and economic crisis.
President Michel Aoun tweeted it was “unacceptable” and has ordered for an investigation to find the exact trigger for the explosion. Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council said those responsible would face the “maximum punishment” possible.
A three-day mourning period has been declared by the President, and promised that the government would release 100 billion lira (£50.5m; $66m) of emergency funds.
The UK is planning to send a small advance party of military personnel to Beirut within the next 24 hours to liaise with the Lebanese authorities dealing with the emergency response to the explosions, Sky News understands.
French President Emmanuel Macron said “rescue and aid” were on the way to Lebanon following a massive explosion on Tuesday.
Effects of explosions in Beirut, Lebanon
These explosions in Beirut, Lebanon is a huge setback for the people of Lebanon.