Death Toll Reaches 100 After Huge Port Explosion In Beirut Shatters Buildings
The death toll has risen to at least 100, with thousands more injured, after an explosion tore through the port in Beirut, Lebanon, last night, August 4.
More than 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, the ingredient used in fertiliser bombs, was detonated in what’s believed to have been a firecracker warehouse, after a fire was sparked by a welder.
Horrifying footage showed thick smoke billowing out of the building and engulfing the streets as emergency services desperately tried to find survivors in the devastation.
You can see some clips from the explosion here:
Hospitals that had themselves been damaged struggled to cope with the strain of more than 4,000 casualties, with rescuers working all through the night and into this morning in a bid to find those who may be trapped.
Lebanon is already experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades, and now it must deal with the devastation caused by the catastrophic explosion, which could be heard 125 miles away in Cyprus.
The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross said in a statement: ‘What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe. There are victims and casualties everywhere.’
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said those responsible will ‘pay the price’, before declaring the country in a two-week state of emergency.
So far, the UK, the United States, France, the Gulf states and even rivals Israel, have offered aid to the country.
People in Beirut are being urged to stay indoors if they can, over fears of toxic gas being released by the blast.
Zain Ja’far, Sky News’ Middle East editor who was also in the city at the time of the blast, said the ‘huge explosion’ made the windows ‘cave in… it tore apart the facade of the building we’re in, and once the dust settled we managed to get ourselves and others in this block outside’.
Firefighters were already present at the factory, dealing with an initial fire, when it detonated the ammonium nitrate, causing a huge and devastating explosion.
An Israeli bomb expert has suggested fireworks could have been involved in the initial blaze, explaining that ‘you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and whistles’, telling MailOnline: ‘This is very specific behaviour of fireworks.’
The second explosion left behind complete and utter carnage, reducing buildings to piles of rubble on the ground.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible tragedy.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.