Massive explosions shook Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, on Tuesday, in a blast that has killed over 25 people with many more fatalities feared to come after 2,500 are confirmed injured.
Health Minister Hamad Hasan, who disclosed this, said, an explosion in central Beirut on Tuesday had caused a “very high number of injuries” and extensive damage, Lebanese LBC television channel quoted the minister as saying.
Beirut City Governor Marwan Aboud said “Beirut is a disaster city and the scale of the damage is enormous” and called the blast a “national disaster akin to Hiroshima.”
The blast was so loud that people could hear it in Cyprus.
“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” the Telegraph quoted a Reuters witness.
Video shared online the moment an enormous explosion erupted near the Beirut waterfront, sending an immense shockwave tearing through downtown neigbhourhoods. Moments before a fire could be seen burning at the base of a billowing grey tower of smoke apparently from an initial explosion near the port area.
Local media showed images of blooded people trapped under rubble following the explosion, the cause of which was not immediately clear.
Hospitals called for blood donations and the Lebanese Red Crescent sent out an alert to paramedics, calling on them to rush to dispatch centres.
Early reports in local media suggested the incident may have been an accidental explosion of fireworks stored at the port.
A Hizbollah source told Lebanese media the blast was unrelated to recent tensions between Israel and the militant group on Lebanon’s southern border, saying there was “no truth in everything that is being circulated about an Israeli strike on Hizbollah weapons in the port.”
The blast damaged balconies and blew out windows miles away, with the explosion heard across the city and some districts losing electricity.
It comes as Lebanon faces its worst financial and economic crisis in decades.
Video showed damage to the offices of local newspaper the Daily Star, where the ceiling had collapsed and shattered glass and dust covered overturned furniture.
“Buildings are shaking,” tweeted one resident, while another wrote: “An enormous, deafening explosion just engulfed Beirut. Heard it from miles away.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted his condolences.
“Truly horrifying images coming from Beirut. I am sure I speak for all Londoners when I say our thoughts and prayers are with the city and its residents.”