Toll in Beirut explosion likely to rise, PM promises action
BEIRUT (LEBANON) – Rescue workers in the Lebanese capital dug through the rubble on Wednesday in search for survivors of a powerful blast in a warehouse that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. The explosion killed nearly 100 people and injured 4,000 and the toll is slated to rise.
The blast on Tuesday was the most powerful in years in the capital which is reeling from an economic crisis and rise in coronavirus cases.
As much as 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which is used in fertilisers and bombs, had been kept at the port sans safety measures, said President Michel Aoun, who called an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Though officials have not revealed the cause of the fire that triggered the explosion, local media and a source said it must have been caused by welding carried out in the warehouse.
“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” said the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
The blaze still raged hours after the explosion that occurred after 6 pm (1500 GMT). An orange glow was seen across the sky.
The explosion brought back memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftereffects when shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids were the order of the day.
Injured people walked on their streets in search of missing relatives.
“The blast blew me off metres away. I was in a daze and was all covered in blood. It brought back the vision of another explosion I witnessed at the US embassy in 1983,” said Huda Baroudi, a Beirut designer.
Those responsible will pay the price for the deadly blast, said Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
The US embassy in Beirut warned residents about toxic gases released by the explosion and urged people to remain indoors and wear gas masks if available.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field