Two large explosions rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday evening local time, shattering windows in surrounding neighborhoods for miles, destroying nearby buildings and wounding thousands of people.
At least 78 people have been killed and nearly 4,000 injured, according to Reuters. The Lebanese Red Cross said that the number of victims could reach 100, “and some victims are still under the rubble.
An Israeli official denied Israel played any role in tonight’s explosion at the Port of Beirut. The Secretary General of the Kataeb Party, Nizar Najarian, was reported dead after suffering a severe injury at the party’s headquarters during the massive blast at the Port of Beirut
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosion was caused by an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate left unsecured in a warehouse, NBC News reported.
Residents posted graphic photos and videos on social media showing a mushroom-like cloud and enormous smoke plumes rising above the city from Beirut’s port area. The blast was equivalent to an earthquake with the magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter Scale.
Lebanon will not rest until they find the person responsible for what happened, in order to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties.
The second blast took place near the residence of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. CNBC’s Hadley Gamble confirmed in a phone call with Hariri that he is unharmed.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defense Council, according to his official Twitter account.
Witnesses told CNBC that the explosion had taken out all the windows in the surrounding area, and described numerous injured and bloodied people walking around “in a daze.
The Lebanese Red Cross said that hundreds of people have been rushed to hospitals, and tweeted an “urgent call for blood donations” at its transfusion centers across Lebanon. Beirut’s hospitals have been overwhelmed, with local reporters tweeting images of medical staff treating patients in a parking lot.
Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, called the disaster a “national catastrophe,” breaking down into tears as he toured the city.
Numerous countries have offered to come to Lebanon’s aid, including France, the USA, the U.K., Qatar, Iran and, more unexpectedly, Israel — with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations and is technically still at war?
The explosion comes ahead of a long-awaited U.N. tribunal verdict planned for Friday on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the father of Saad Hariri, who was killed by a truck bomb in 2005.
The four suspects in the trial are all members of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shia paramilitary and political group widely seen as the most powerful political party in Lebanon. The suspects deny any role in Hariri’s death.
President Donald Trump during a briefing Tuesday at the White House said that U.S. military officials think the explosion in Beirut “was an attack” or “a bomb of some kind.“
CNBC / ABC Flash Point Terror News 2020.