Ammonium nitrate stored in warehouse at Beirut port caused massive blast, says Lebanese Minister
Beirut: Over 100 people died and 4000 others are wounded in a massive explosion that rocked Lebanon’s Beirut port on Tuesday. The explosion released a shockwave causing widespread damage to buildings in different parts of the city. The cause of the explosion was not yet clear.
Health Minister Hassan Hamad said at least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 are wounded in the huge explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.
President Michel Aoun has called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to the presidency’s Twitter account. Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called for a day of mourning on Wednesday.
Lebanese Interior Minster has said that ammonium nitrate was stored in the port, which is what caused the explosion, according to local reports. He said Lebanese customs should be asked about why it was there.
Beirut port almost flattened
The blast, which almost flattened the port, was felt across the city as a giant mushroom cloud rose above it. The site looks like a “wasteland” with debris seen everywhere. Cars were thrown three floors up onto roofs of factories.
Rescue services have not been able to reach the actual site of the explosion yet because fires are still raging. Helicopters are circling the area trying to extinguish the fire.
An Al Jazeera reporter, quoting the captain of an Italian civilian ship ‘Orient Queen’ that was docked near the blast site, said, “He was covered in blood after the explosion threw him across a room of his ship. Several people on board were wounded and taken to hospital.
Highly explosive material stored in warehouse
“It really was an incredible explosion. People here are saying that they have never seen anything like it. Even on the way here the roads were covered in glass,” the report said.
The head of General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, visited the site of the explosion. He said, it appears, the explosion was caused by highly explosive material that was stored in a warehouse.
According to Ibrahim, the explosive material was confiscated years ago.
“We are at the entrance of Beirut’s port, you can see behind me the chaos. Ambulances continue to arrive, continue to evacuate the casualties,” Khodr said.
“So far, according to security sources, at least 10 people have been killed, but we are expecting that number to rise because we understand from the health minister as well as the Lebanese Red Cross that there have been hundreds of injuries.
“Ambulances have been called from across the country to help in the rescue effort. It was a massive explosion; you can see the fire trucks arriving at the scene trying to put out the flame.”
Israel denies it’s involvement in the explosion
Israel has nothing to do with the huge explosion at the Beirut port area, an Israeli official has said.
“Israel has nothing to do with the incident,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Israeli N12 television news that the explosion was most likely an accident caused by a fire.