On Tuesday, Beirut was rocked with a massive explosion, equivalent to the force of an earthquake. This was followed by a shock wave that snuffs out windows, causing enormous damage across Lebanese capital.
Nearly 100 people were killed and more than 4000 injured, as per the officials with the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettaneh, who has also warned against the rising death toll. Earlier, 70 deaths were reported by health minister Hassan Hamad.
The hospitals were flooded with injured making them pack past their capacity. Medical officials have also requested for blood donations.
According to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ, based on different videos from the scene, the blast struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a fire that broke out in the city’s port area.
Though this blast has yet to be determined, President Donald Trump termed it a “terrible attack” he did not name anyone based on the distrust of U.S. generals.
At the press conference in White House, Trump offered his assistance and condolences to the people of Lebanon and said, “I’ve met with some of our great generals, and they just feel it was,” and he further said, “It was a bomb of some kind.”
The chief of Lebanese General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, said that the blasts’ reason is the highly explosive material stored in the port after it was confiscated from a ship.
The material was identified as ammonium nitrate, as tweeted on the official Lebanese account, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, “It is unacceptable that a shipment of ammonium nitrate estimated at 2,750 tons has been present for six years in a warehouse without taking preventive measures that endanger the safety of citizens.”
In a domestic terrorism case that rock America, 168 people were killed by Timothy McVeigh by building a bomb from nearly two tons of ammonium nitrate in which fuel oil was mixed for blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
After the explosion, an orange cloud over the port of Beirut, which is consistent with the explosions related to nitrate. Firstly the building was shaken by force and then again hit by a shock wave snuffing out the windows and sending fragments of glass flying through the air.
Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud termed it as a “national catastrophe,” and a day of mourning was declared by the prime minister, as per CNN. He also said that “It resembles what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale.”
Israel has denied any involvement and offered for medical aid. Israel has seen many years of conflict with Lebanon, especially & recently with Hezbollah. The humanitarian assistance was also provided by the United Nations and France.
The interim force of the United Nations in Lebanon said many of their peacekeepers had been seriously injured in the blast. UNIFIL also noted that among all the ships docked at the port, one was damaged.
Major General Stefano Del Col, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, said in a statement, “We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support.”
The online videos showed that a dark gloom rose from the port, which could be expected from the fire of the industrial area. This was followed by an explosion that created a vast cloud that covered the city; after this, a few moments later, the shock wave hit. The blast took place shortly after6 pm as the local time, was followed by the howl of ambulance sirens through the debris-covered streets.
The Beirut blast recalled the twin blasts that have left nearly 50 persons dead and 700 injured in Tianjin’s Chinese port in 2015. The other explosion was more potent than the other, which was equal to the estimated 21 tons of TNT.
For the last many years, Beirut has seen bloodshed due to armed conflict with Israel, an evil war, and suicide bombings. Rowan Ramadani said, “It was a real horror show. I haven’t seen anything like that since the days of the (civil) war.”
Ben Wedeman, who is CNN’s Beirut correspondent, said he “never felt anything like it … [I’ve] been around the block and seen pretty large explosions … and this was bigger.”
Washington Post Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly reported, “bleeding people, wreckage piled all over.”
In a first-person account for the New York Times, Vivian Yee, a correspondent for the newspaper said, “Everyone on the street seemed to be either bleeding from open gashes or swathed in makeshift bandages — all except one woman in a chic, backless top leading a small dog on a leash.”
She added: “Only an hour before; we had all been walking dogs or checking email or grocery shopping. Only an hour before, there had been no blood.”