Death toll in the deadliest Beirut blast reached 100 as more than 4,000 injured have been admitted to various hospitals. Scores are in critical condition and countrywide emergency has been declared to provide medical treatment to the injured.
Rescue workers are still engaged in searching for more than 100 missing/trapped people inside the rubbles. The entire port area was razed to the ground in the aftermath of the powerful blast. Thick-smoke and flames of fire could be seen from the site of the blast. A bustling city was turned into debris in a short span of time. The horrifying images of the blast went viral on social media, causing panic and concern worldwide.
The whole city was shaken by the explosion and a mushroom cloud could be seen spreading over the port area. President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse. Ammonium nitrate is used as a fertilizer in agriculture and as an explosive.
He scheduled an urgent cabinet meeting for Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. The country will observe an official period of mourning for three days from Wednesday.
Local media showed people trapped beneath rubble and video footage showed wrecked cars and blast-damaged buildings. Hospitals were said to be overwhelmed.
The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettani, described it as a “huge catastrophe”, adding: “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
His organisation said more than 100 people had died and that a search and rescue operations was still under way to locate the more than 100 people missing.
Journalist Sunniva Rose said there was still smoke going up into the sky late into the evening. “The whole city was black. It was very hard to walk around, people were covered in blood. I saw an 86-year-old woman being treated by a doctor who had just run out of his home with a first aid kit.”