“This reminds me of what happened in Japan, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve never seen damage of this size and width, and so catastrophic. This is a national catastrophe. This is a problem for Lebanon, and we don’t know how we’re going to get out of it.”
Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut
(CMR) A large blast in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, has caused widespread damage and injured hundreds of people. Estimates are at least 400 are likely injured with an unknown number of fatalities.
Reports are that hospitals are treating people in the parking lots. Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion in the port region. Videos posted online showed a column of smoke followed by a large mushroom cloud. Some reports suggest the explosion may have been an accident. Lebanon's National News Agency reported a fire breaking out at what it called an explosives depot at the port before the explosion.
Lebanon's internal security chief said the blast happened in an area housing highly explosive materials.
Lebanon is on the verge of financial collapse during the coronavirus pandemic with consumer prices tripling and the value of the national currency dropping by 80%. Coronavirus has said to have only compounded longstanding failures of government corruption and financial mismanagement.
Tensions are also high ahead of Friday's verdict in a trial over the killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut, has arrived at the site of the explosion, where he broke down in tears while speaking to reporters.
He tells a Lebanese journalist that he’s there to search for firefighters who were on the site fighting the fire that broke out before the explosion.
“They came to fight the fire, and then they vanished,” he says. “We don’t know where they are. We’re here to look for them.
Countries around the world took to social media to express their heartfelt thoughts: