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Beirut Explosions – What We Know

We are actively adding and editing information as we receive it. The following report is true to the best of our knowledge. Refer to this article for all Social Media footage of the Beirut Explosions. Reader and Viewer discretion is advised.

 

At 6pm GMT+3, the capital city of Lebanon, Beirut, found itself in the midst of a harrowing set of explosions – the aftermath of which still continues to unravel. Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, has addressed this devastation, further iterating the importance being given to finding those responsible; paying respect to those martyred, injured and otherwise affected.

 

According to PM Diab, the main blast took place in Beirut’s port and was due to the ignition of an approximate 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate – one of the numerous chemicals stored in the warehouse in question – for a known period of six years, to date. While rumors of foul play spread like wildfire, authorities have ruled out acts of terrorism or civil retaliation. Furthermore, Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, informed the press and those concerned that ammonium nitrate was, in fact, the prevalent cause of these explosions. Owing to this, an investigation into what could have caused the ignition is to be carried out.

 

While the initial toll was evident, with a blast radius of up to 2 miles (3 km) – leaving vehicles violently displaced, buildings shaken and windows shattered – the effect reverberated to the West and South of Beirut. Citizens of the Eastern Mediterranean Island Country, Cyprus, reported feeling this enormous blast wave as well, from a whopping 120 miles (200 km) away. Citizens and passersby managed to capture the extent of the explosion, along with the aftermath. The Guardian has quickly and extremely efficiently put this footage on YouTube for worldwide residents to view, with viewer discretion advised.

 

Watch Beirut explosion: scores dead and thousands hurt as blast rips through city via Guardian News on YouTube

 

High priority granaries also fell prey to the explosion, taking a grave toll on the city’s already-limited supply of grains, with heavy dependence on import by sea. Entire buildings shook, trees were uprooted and vegetation was eroded. Speaking with The Guardian, a young man passing by said “This country is cursed”.

 

The American University of Aerosol Research Lab’s indicators deemed the air quality as ‘Moderate’, having taken readings closer to the time of the explosion. However, they subsequently indicated ‘Good’ a mere hour later. The US Embassy in Beirut has released a statement advising citizens to wear masks and stay indoors as much as possible, following reports of toxic gas being let out as part of the explosion. The UN reported 48 of its staff in Beirut, of which 27 family members and three visitors reported to be injured.

 

Adding to Lebanon’s crumbling economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, offices in the blast radius also underwent major devastation. The Daily Star newspaper office, about 1 km away from the epicenter of the explosion, sustained immense damage. Another newspaper, An-Nahar, also reported 15 of its staff members being among the hospitalized. A now-viral tweet is making headlines, with footage of the dilapidated state of the Daily Star newspaper’s office.

 

Footage from Daily Star office after the explosions via Ghada Alsharif on Twitter

 

A Doctor at St. George’s Hospital, less than 1.2 miles (2 km) from the epicenter of the explosion, spoke with The Guardian. “They’re bringing people to the hospital but we can’t receive them. They’re treating them outside in the street. The hospital is broken, the ER is broken.” Hospitals across Beirut are struggling to cope with the inflow of emergency cases.

 

As of Tuesday night (4th August 2020), Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council has recommended declaring Beirut a disaster-stricken city, further declaring a two-week state of emergency – authorizing military intervention. The Beirut port was allegedly used by Hezbollah, a Shia Islamist political party and militant group. However, it has been confirmed that no other facilities belonging to this group were targeted. Calling into account the International Tribunal Trial (for the assassination of former Lebanon PM Rafik Hariri in the year 2005), that was due in three days – authorities have further clarified that there is no connection between the trial and the explosions. Israel, while technically still at war with Lebanon, has also denied culpability and has in-turn offered humanitarian and medical resources.

 

The Associated Press, in conversation with Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh, reported there being “hundreds of casualties”. Beirut’s Governor arrived on the scene the next day, 5th August 2020, and spoke with Lebanese Press about their search for the fire-fighters that were on-site when the second explosion took place. “This is a national catastrophe”, he says.

 

Governor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, speaks to Lebanese Press while on scene the day after the explosions

The current estimated human toll stands at 100 deaths and 4000 injured and heavily-affected. Multiple countries have taken to Social Media to offer their aid to and stand in solidarity with Lebanon during this unprecedented situation.

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