On Tuesday evening, two huge explosions in the port of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, sent massive shock waves across the city leaving dozens of people dead and thousands injured. The buildings in the vicinity collapsed, leaving a lot of debris around. A massive blast was observed after a relatively small one around the same location. Since then, several disturbing visuals (videos and photos) have surfaced online.
As per Lebanon Health Ministry, at least seventy eight people have died till now. The toll, however, is expected to rise. Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab has stated that the explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate (a compound used in fertilizers and mining explosives) that exploded in a warehouse at the port. He has declared Wednesday as a day of national mourning.
Several ambulances were rushed to the spot. Hospitals are overwhelmed unable to cope up with so many injured people and COVID-19 patients simultaneously. A lot of health infrastructure has also been damaged. Hospitals and Red Cross Society of Lebanon has made SOS calls for blood donations.
“I’ve never in my life seen damage this enormous… this is a national catastrophe. This is a disaster for Lebanon,” said Governor of Beirut, unable to control tears.
The blast has come when Lebanon is already struggling with the pandemic. Its economy is on the verge of collapse. Moreover, there are rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon’s southern border. Along with this, in about three days time, a UN-backed tribunal is set to give its verdict in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who was killed in a truck bombing more than fifteen years ago.
The explosion is being compared with a similar blast at the Chinese city of Tianjin in 2015. It was also a warehouse catastrophe that killed more than 170 people and left hundreds injured.
Governments worldwide are offering support, including the UK, France, Australia, the US, Canada and Israel.
The Indian embassy in Lebanon has put out two helpline numbers for any Indian in need.
(With inputs from AP and AFP)