Lebanon: huge explosion rocks central Beirut

  2020-08-04 20:25      119 View Count        Comment

A huge explosion has rocked central Beirut, killing at least 10 people, shattering windows, knocking down doors and shaking buildings several hundred feet away.

The source of the blast, which appeared to occur around the Lebanese capital’s port, is currently unclear. Cars were left strewn across the surrounding highway. Witnesses told LBC television that at least dozens were hurt and hospitals were full of injured people.

Lebanese medical and security sources told Reuters that at least 10 people had been killed.

A doctor at St Joseph’s hospital, less than 2km (1.2 miles) from the blast, said dozens of injured people were being brought for treatment but were unable to be received because the hospital had been destroyed.

“They’re bringing people to the hospital but we can’t treat them,” he said. “They’re leaving them outside in the street. The hospital is broken, the ER is broken.”

Another witness driving past the port said he first saw a fire from his window and then felt an enormous explosion that lifted the highway. Many people were feared to be trapped in rubble in the area immediately surrounding the explosion.

An enormous cloud of smoke could be seen from across the city and witnesses said there were reports of a fire and several smaller explosions at the port that preceded the large blast after 6pm on Tuesday.

The office of the Daily Star newspaper about 400 metres from the port was among the buildings to sustain damage from the explosion.

Pictures from inside Beirut’s port broadcast on Lebanese TV showed buildings reduced to shells, shipping containers flung across the scene and several fires raging.

Lebanon’s health minister told journalists a ship carrying fireworks had blown up in the port, though the size of the blast heard across the country raised suspicions it might have resulted from a rocket strike or detonation of explosives, deliberate or otherwise. He said at least dozens were wounded but did not give further details of casualties.

The Lebanese Customs director-general Badri Daher also claimed an explosion occurred at chemical warehouse in the port area.

An Israeli radio station reported that officials had denied involvement, but that was not formally confirmed.

Source: The Guardian

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