An explosion rocked Beirut today. Here’s what we gathered

A massive explosion ripped through the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, injuring many people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.
Smoke rises in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

A massive explosion ripped through the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, injuring many people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.

If you’re just reading in now, here’s what we know about the blast so far:

  • Where it happened: The blast appears to have been centered on the city’s port area. State-run National News Agency reported that the source of the explosion was initially believed to be a major fire at a warehouse in the area.
  • Many injured: Large numbers of people were wounded in the blast, authorities said, and footage from the scene captured the injured staggering through streets in the capital. The country’s health minister ordered all hospitals in the area to prepare to receive injuries. Officials have not released any specific numbers about how many people were injured.
  • Effects felt for miles: Homes as far as 10 kilometers away — or a little more than six miles — were damaged, according to witnesses. One Beirut resident who was several kilometers away from the site of the blast said her windows had been shattered by the explosion.
  • Cause is unclear: We’re still not sure exactly what caused the explosion.

 

Beirut explosion generated seismic waves equivalent of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake
Data collected by the United States Geological Survey shows that the massive explosion in Beirut was so powerful, it created seismic waves equivalent of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

However, the magnitude 3.3 equivalent isn’t, “directly comparable to an earthquake of similar size.”

That’s because surface type blasts, like the Beirut explosion, don’t produce as large magnitude as an earthquake of similar energy would according to Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center. Blakeman said most of the energy goes into the air and buildings.

“Not enough of the energy is transmitted into the rocks in the ground,” he said.

Meaning, if the explosion had occurred below the surface of the earth, the magnitude would have registered even higher.

 At least 73 killed in Beirut blast

Ambulances drive past the site of the explosion. Hassan Ammar/AP

The death toll in the massive blast that shook Beirut has reached 73, the Lebanese national broadcaster TeleLiban reported citing Health Minister Hamad Hassan.

The minister said earlier today that at least 2,750 had been injured in the explosion.

US Embassy in Beirut asks people to wear masks due to reports of toxic gases

People ride past a car destroyed after a building wall collapsed on August 4.

The US Embassy in Beirut is urging those in the area of the explosion to “stay indoors and wear masks if available” due to reports of toxic gases released from the blast.

An embassy security alert went out following the explosion.

“There are reports of toxic gases released in the explosion so all in the area should stay indoors and wear masks if available,” the embassy warned.

The embassy also urged US citizens in the affected areas to “contact their loved ones directly and/or update their status on social media.”

Israel’s President Rivlin: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people”

Israel is offering humanitarian medical assistance to Lebanon following the massive blast in Beirut Tuesday afternoon, even though the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

“Under the direction of Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel approached Lebanon through international defense and diplomatic channels to offer the Lebanese government medical humanitarian aid,” a statement read.

Following the announcement, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin tweeted, “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”

Lebanon is one of a small number of countries Israel regards as an enemy state, and there have been no diplomatic relations since a ceasefire signed between the two countries in 1949.

As recently as last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warning that Lebanon, along with Hezbollah, bore “full responsibility” for what the Israeli army described as an infiltration by a Hezbollah cell into Israeli territory.

Organization warns children “may be hurt” and separated from parents after explosion

From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul and Mia Alberti in Lisbon

A view of a damaged street and buildings caused by a massive explosion in Beirut's port.

The aid agency Save the Children warned of children unaccounted for after a deadly explosion in Beirut that “wiped out entire streets,” according to a statement from the organization.

“We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today. The death toll may not be known for several days but what we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked, and separated from their parents,” said Jad Sakr, the organization’s director in Lebanon.

“It is vital that children and their families get access to the services they urgently need, including medical care and physical and emotional protection,” Sakr added.

The organization also reported that hospitals are “completely overwhelmed” and “unable to treat further casualties as hundreds of beds immediately filled up following the blast.” The agency described the explosion “as the biggest explosion in Lebanon’s recent history.”

“The incident could not have occurred at a worse time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the economic deterioration. Beirut’s main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains, and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy,” Sakr said.

Save the Children’s offices in Beirut were also badly damaged by the explosion.

 

Here’s what the damage looks like inside Lebanese prime minister’s headquarters

Nina dos Santos
Nina dos Santos

Photos taken from inside the Grand Serail, the government palace and the headquarters of Lebanon’s prime minister, showed some damage inside the building.

The building is about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the site of the explosion.

The blast also dealt considerable damage to the Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese president, according to Lebanese state media.

 

UN peacekeepers injured in the blast

From CNN’s Nada AlTaher in Abu Dhabi

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says some of its naval peacekeepers were injured — some seriously — by the explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday.

“UNIFIL is transporting the injured peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals for medical treatment,” UNIFIL said in a statement. “UNIFIL is currently assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on UNIFIL personnel.”

A maritime task force ship was also damaged by the explosion.

“We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support,” the UNIFIL head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said.

Those responsible for Beirut blast “will pay for what happened,” Lebanese prime minister says

Tele Liban/AFP

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that Tuesday’s explosion in the Lebanese capital “will not pass without accountability” and “those responsible will pay for what happened.”

He said that an investigation into the explosion will include “revelations that will be announced about this dangerous warehouse which has been present since 2014,” without providing any additional details.

Describing the explosion as a “catastrophe,” he said in a televised statement that the priority now was to recover the dead and treat the injured.

He concluded by making “an emergency call to all those countries who love this country to stand by us and to help us heal our deep wounds.”

 

Eyewitness footage shows Beirut blast from a nearby boat

Hani Abughazaleh and friends had been fishing off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon.

“We heard a couple of small explosions and saw white smoke rising above,” he told CNN.

CNN’s producer in Beirut Ghazi Balkiz said the initial explosion happened at 6:07 p.m. local time.

Abughazaleh began taking a video at 6:08 p.m. local time and seven seconds later, the massive red explosion cloud appears. The sudden and intense explosion is so powerful a massive, visible shockwave forms in the sky.

He said when the shockwave hit the group, it almost knocked them off the boat.

“We saw a red plume rising and people panicked wondering if it’s some sort of lethal gas,” he said.

“Oh my God,” someone in the video exclaims.

Two more videos taken by Abughazaleh shows the red cloud billowing above Beirut.

As the boat began to make its way back to the shore along the coast, the red cloud appears to have dispersed and a red haze appears in the air.

“I drove home to assess the damage in my house and saw hundreds of injured people,” he said.

At least 50 killed in Beirut blast, health minister says

The death toll in the Beirut blast has doubled to at least 50 killed, with many more feared dead, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters outside a hospital Tuesday.

At least 2,750 people were injured in the massive explosion that shook the capital, Hassan said.

Rescue and aid headed to Lebanon, French president says

From CNN’s Pierre Bairin and Mia Alberti

French President Emmanuel Macron said “rescue and aid” were on the way to Lebanon following a massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.

“I express my fraternal solidarity with Lebanese people after the explosion that caused so many casualties and so much damage tonight in Beirut,” Macron tweeted.

“France stands by Lebanon’s sides. Always. French rescue and aid is on its way,” he added.

Macron also talked on the phone with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, following the incident, the Elysée told CNN.

Scale of losses “too great to be described,” former Lebanese prime minister says

Marwan Naamani/DPA/ZUMA Press

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a tweet that the scale of the losses after an explosion rocked the capital Beirut “was too great to be described” with the “biggest loss is the loss of dozens of dead and injured.”

“Everyone is called to Lebanon’s rescue and to stand in solidarity with our people in all the affected neighborhoods,” he said.

Lebanon’s health minister told reporters earlier that at least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in Tuesday’s massive blast at Beirut port.

 

At least 25 people killed, 2,500 injured in Beirut blast

 STR/AFP/Getty Images

At least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in Tuesday’s massive blast at Beirut port, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters.

The cause of the explosion remains unclear.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of injuries in the headline. The health minister said more than 2,500 people were injured.

Beirut explosion kills political party leader

The secretary-general of the Kataeb political party, Nazar Najarian, was killed in the powerful explosion on Tuesday, according to Lebanon state-run NNA news.

Najarian was in his office when the explosion happened. He died after being critically injured.

Hundreds hospitalized across Beirut after the explosion

Valarie Fakhoury, a British grandmother with her Lebanese daughter and granddaughter, stand outside the emergency ward of a hospital in central Beirut.

Hundreds of people have been hospitalized across the Lebanese capital and many are feared dead in the aftermath of a massive blast that rocked Beirut, shattering glass and damaging buildings miles from the site.

Hospital emergency rooms are being inundated by the injured, with the emergency section of one main hospital – the American University of Beirut Medical Center – unable to receive more patients, partly due to blast damage, according to state media.

The Lebanese Red Cross, health officials, and politicians have called on people to donate blood to help the injured in the hospital.

Images from the city show cars, ambulances and military vehicles packed with the walking wounded and others who appeared not to be moving.

While officials have yet to announce an official number of casualties, multiple members of the emergency services and politicians speaking to local media have expressed worries that there could be a high death toll.

WHO regional office working to respond to “urgent needs” following Beirut blast

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta

The World Health Organization’s regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean is working with partners, including Lebanon’s Public Health Ministry, to respond to “urgent needs” following the “massive explosion” that rocked Beirut on Tuesday.

The organization said it is working with the country’s health ministry “to make sure trauma supplies are available.”

EU Council President to the people of Lebanon: “Stay strong”

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The President of the European Council Charles Michel has tweeted his support for the people of Lebanon and the families of the victims of the blast that rocked Beirut on Tuesday.

“My thoughts are with the people of #Lebanon and with the families of the victims of the tragic #BeirutBlast,” Michel wrote. “The EU stands ready to provide assistance and support.”

“Stay strong,” Michel also wrote.

Israel’s foreign minister: No reason not to believe Beirut explosion was an accident

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has denied any suggestions that Israel might have been responsible for the explosion in Beirut.

Speaking a few moments ago on Channel 12 News in Israel, he said he saw “no reason not to believe the reports from Beirut that this was an accident.”

CNN has also spoken to two government officials who both reiterated Israel’s lack of involvement.

“Israel had nothing to do with the incident,” one of the officials said.

Here’s where the blast happened

A massive explosion shook Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday evening.

The blast appears to have been centered on the city’s port area. The cause of the explosion is still unclear.

The explosion damaged the presidential palace, state media reports

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday dealt considerable damage to the Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese president, according to Lebanese state media.

The blast shattered the windows of hallways, entrances and salons, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported on Tuesday. “Doors and windows in several of the palace’ wings were dislocated,” it reported.

“No one was hurt,” NNA also reported.

 

At least 400 people hurt in blast taken to an area hospital, the nurse says

Around 400 injured people have been taken to the emergency unit of the Hotel Dieu hospital after a blast rocked Beirut on Tuesday, a registered nurse on duty at the facility told CNN.

The severity of the injuries was not immediately clear.

The blast was felt 150 miles away from Lebanon

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday afternoon was felt in the neighboring island of Cyprus, around 240 kilometers away – or about 150 miles — from Lebanon, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).

“We received a number of reports from Cyprus which seem related to this explosion, reporting noise and rattling windows,” EMSC tweeted. 

 

 

Several social users also wrote on Twitter they felt the explosion in their homes in Cyprus.

“The explosion was felt in Limassol, Cyprus, our windows shook (sic),” Elias Mavrokefalos tweeted. “I checked to see if we were being bombed,” another Limassol resident tweeted. Another person said she also heard the explosion and felt a “light tremor” in the city of Nicosia.

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides also tweeted that he’s in “communication with the Lebanese government and have informed of Cyprus’ immediate readiness to assist Lebanon.”

Red Cross puts out “urgent call” for blood donations following blast

The Lebanese Red Cross has made an “urgent call” for blood donations from all blood types to help treat those injured in the blast in the port of Beirut today, the organization said on Twitter.

 Source: CNN.COM

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