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LIVE: The scene of a deadly massive explosion in Lebanon's capital Beirut

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A huge explosion in port warehouses near central Beirut killed more than 50 people, injured over 2,750 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday's blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years to hit Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
Lebanon's interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, denied any role and offered help.
"What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe," the head of Lebanon's Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. "There are victims and casualties everywhere."
Hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.
A security source said victims were taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were packed with wounded. Ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to help.
The blast was so big that some residents in the city, where memories of heavy shelling during the 1975 to 1990 civil war live on, thought an earthquake had struck. Dazed, weeping and wounded people walked through streets searching for relatives.
"I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability," Prime Minister Hassan Diab told the nation. "Those responsible will pay the price," he said in his televised address, adding that details about the "dangerous warehouse" would be made public.
The interior minister told Al Jadeed TV that ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port since 2014.
The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available.
Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port followed by an enormous blast, sending up a white cloud and a fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km (one mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.
It was not immediately clear what caused the initial blaze on Tuesday that set off the blast.
Lebanon's health minister said more than 50 people had been killed and more than 2,750 injured. Lebanon's Red Cross said hundreds of people had been taken to hospitals.
The governor of Beirut port told Sky News a team of firefighters, who were battling the initial blaze, had "disappeared" after the explosion.
President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. He said it was "unacceptable" that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored for six years without safety measures.
The prime minister called for a day of mourning.
The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.
Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb on the same waterfront, about 2 km from the port.
Israeli officials said Israel had nothing to do with the blast and said their country was ready to give humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon. Shi'ite Iran, the main backer of Hezbollah, also offered support, as did Tehran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni power. Western countries including the United States, Britain and France also said they were ready to assist.
Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than 6 million.
It threatens a new humanitarian crisis in a nation that hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and which is already grappling with economic meltdown under one of the world's biggest debt burdens.
Residents said glass was broken in neighborhoods on Beirut's Mediterranean coast and inland suburbs several kms (miles) away. In Cyprus, a Mediterranean island 110 miles (180 km) across the sea from Beirut, residents heard the blast. One resident in Nicosia said his house and window shutters shook. "All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos," a Reuters witness said.
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#huge explosion #ammonium nitrate #bomb in lebanon #Shi'ite group #hezbollah #Bekaa #Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri #beirut #explosion #Internal Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim #Raouche #lebanese #fireworks #port warehouse district #smoke #fire #Lebanese President Michel Aoun #Mediterranean #lebanon explosion #explosion in beirut #fireball #red cross #explosion beirut today #Rabieh #Cyprus #Prime Minister Hassan Diab #beirut explosion #lebanon #blast

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Me sitting here, comfortably watching this from my safe college dorm room, makes me feel horrified. I cannot, CANNOT, begin to imagine the terror people are experiencing in Lebanon. My prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

by Nosherwan Ahmad 1 month ago

Pray for LEBANON ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ

From Indonesia๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

by Achmad Mahmun Nurul. L 1 month ago

All the condolences for the victims, and pray for Lebanon ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณโคโค๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ง

by ALGIR ุงู„ู‚ูŠุฑ 1 month ago

Praying for all Beirut, Lebanon people to recover as soon as possible ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡งโค๏ธ

Love from Malaysia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พโค๏ธ

by Narae Kim 1 month ago

Pray for LEBANON๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ง

From INDONESIA๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

by Firdi Fallah Art 1 month ago

Am an American but this is terrible. It's like 2020 is the nightmare you're unable to wake up from...

by HacksignKT 1 month ago

Iโ€™m from Lebanon I hate who did this to my life I hate them so much

by Rabih Dandachi 1 month ago

This is enough
2020 is the worst year
Sending love and prayers from somalia ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

by Salmaan Abdi 1 month ago

Pray for Lebanon

Love from America ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
From a proud Vietnamese ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ

by chomeo6 1 month ago

2020 is the worst year ever
Pray for lebanon ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ

by Aiza Embuscado 1 month ago

Sick of this year..๐Ÿ˜”
The greatest achievement in 2020 is to just be alive..

by Clifford David 1 month ago

Pray for Lebanon ๐Ÿ’›โค๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ™

From: Philippines

by Lil Yoony 1 month ago

Praying for Lebanon...

from ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญโค๏ธ

by Dayandang TV 1 month ago

God Jesus
I come to you today praying for our world as it is right now. God I pray for true salvation of your people and I pray that you will heal the hearts of many suffering during this time of trials and tribulations. I know that you alone are able to fix and heal and restore and this is why I come to you on behalf of the loved ones and everyone else in need of your love and intervention. God even though I am a sinner, I pray that you will hear and answer my prayer today, in no other name but the name of Jesus, AMEN.

May you all be blessed and find salvation. God is waiting to change our lives, just let Him in.

by Breanne Boucher 1 month ago

Sending all of my love from the USA. Wishing Lebanon well during this time <3

by floobal gloobal 1 month ago

๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™From indonesia๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ

by X MaLL 1 month ago

Praying for all suffering from this horrific explosion. Rest in peace to all lives that were taken. So heartbreaking. ๐Ÿ’”

by Terri Wood 1 month ago

Pray for LEBANON โค๏ธ

I'm From INDONESIA ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡จ

by Ppp Kkkk 1 month ago

RIP for those who died,
Those survive, stay alive n b Strong!
From Singapore..

by jay kit 1 month ago

Mp3 Download

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