At least 63 people have been killed and nearly 3,000 wounded in a powerful explosion that ripped through Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, leaving much of it a wrangled mess.
The massive explosion on Tuesday at Beirut’s port sent shockwaves across the city, causing widespread damage to buildings and shattering windows even on the outskirts of the capital.
The exact cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Mohammed Fahmi, Lebanon’s interior minister, said it was apparently caused by ammonium nitrate that was stored in a warehouse at the port. Prime Minsiter Hassan Diab promised that “what happened will not go without accountability”.
Health Minister Hamad Hasan called for international aid to Lebanon, and a number of nations in the West and the Gulf have said they were willing to provide assistance.
The explosion left the port a wasteland; cars hanging from the mangled beams of warehouses, bent containers spread across roadways and a large ship listing onto the quayside. A health worker on the scene told Al Jazeera that he had seen at least 10 people dead near the last site, many left disfigured.
Helicopters circling the port area were trying to extinguish a large fire preventing to get to the epicentre of the blast sight, even hours after it occurred. Sirens filled the air.
Hospitals in the city were overwhelmed with wounded and turning those with non-serious injuries away.
On TV screens, doctors asked for people to come donate blood. Newscasters read out the names of missing people – some were port employees, others were firefighters who had first responded to the fire at the port, before the massive explosion ripped the capital apart.