At least 78 dead, thousands injured after Beirut explosion

Source:AFP, Reuters 05-08-20 09:33 Updated BJT
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A huge explosion has rocked Lebanon's capital, Beirut, leaving at least 78 people dead and nearly 4,000 people injured, with many nearby buildings leveled to the ground.

The explosion happened in the capital city's port area, which local news agencies have confirmed is home to warehouses that contain explosives, but the source of the blast is still unknown.

Lebanon's Red Cross representative George Kettani described it as "a huge catastrophe," in an interview with broadcaster Mayadeen. "There are victims and casualties everywhere – in all the streets and areas near and far from the explosion."

Photographs and video footage from the scene show survivors covered in blood and many being carried away on stretchers while eyewitnesses described a shower of glass descending from the air in the immediate vicinity of the explosion.

Footage of the blast has emerged on social media as locals filmed large plumes of smoke rising from near a multi-story building in the port before the explosion occurred.

A series of flashing lights could be seen inside the building prior to the blast, prompting onlookers to suggest it may have been a fireworks factory – though the exact cause is still unknown.

The country's health minister, Hamad Hassan, told LBCI Lebanon that "there are a high number of injuries," with buildings several kilometers away from the blast said to have been badly damaged.

In Cyprus, an island lying west of Lebanon, residents reported two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital, Nicosia, said his house shook, rattling shutters.

The armed forces have been called in and local hospitals are struggling to cope with the numbers of casualties.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for an emergency meeting of the country's Supreme Defence Council, according to the presidency's Twitter account.

Lebanon's internal security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, touring the port area, said he would not preempt investigations. An Israeli official said Israel had nothing to do with the blast.

Meanwhile, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters it was not immediately clear what the cause was and that there was no indication of any injuries to any UN personnel.

"We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it's accidental or man-made act," he said.

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng
05-08-20 09:33 BJT
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