Abuja (Precise Post) – Huge explosions have rocked Beirut, killing at least 78 people, injuring thousands more, and also sending an enormous blast wave across the city that shattered windows, knocked down doors and shook buildings.
According to Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, the blast at Beirut’s port was caused when an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been ignited.
He said the chemical had been left unsecured for six years in a warehouse, and has vowed to punish those responsible.
As the death toll climbed on the discovery of more bodies in the wreckage, at least 4,000 were reported injured.
Hundreds of homes were left uninhabitable by the blast which also destroyed huge grain silos, a devastating blow to a country where bread was already scarce and which is dependent on imports by sea.
The US Embassy in Beirut released a statement advising that people wear masks and stay indoors, following “reports of toxic gases released in the explosion”.
Thousands of people sought treatment in nearby hospitals, which were struggling to cope with the casualties. Cars were left strewn across the surrounding highway, and the blast was heard up to 80km (50 miles) away in the country’s north.
“God help us from all these catastrophes,” said Mamdouh, 25, a caterer who lost his job in June. “If this was an accident, as they’re saying, it’s the worst you could ever imagine. This was like a nuclear bomb. What have we done to deserve this?”
On Tuesday night Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council declared Beirut a disaster-stricken city, declaring a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.