Huge explosions in the Lebanese capital of Beirut have killed at least 10 people, local security and medical sources told Reuters. The blasts smashed buildings and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.
An explosion rang out at Beirut’s port shortly after 6pm local time on Tuesday, followed immediately by another, deafening blast. The explosions obliterated buildings at the port and shattered windows several kilometers away, sending a mushroom cloud towering up into the sky. Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident.
As the dust settled, Hassan ordered all available hospitals to begin receiving the wounded. Local media reports claim that hundreds more were injured.
Video footage shot in the aftermath of the blasts shows rubble-strewn streets coated in a choking layer of dust. As car alarms sounded over the streets and smoke blotted out the evening sun, one observer described the scenes as looking “like the end of the world.”
This looks like the end of the world in Lebanon. Shocking first video emerges after #Beirut explosion.pic.twitter.com/pHy3iUIGar
#Beirut streets now. pic.twitter.com/8mZSXTLNQI
What #Beirut looks like now on the street-level#BeirutExplosionMORE: https://t.co/k001zUvFumpic.twitter.com/rrWuuoMXUO
Amid reports of hospitals turning away the injured due to lack of capacity, local media have asked the public to donate blood. In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding to the scene of the blast.
Though Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, some locals claimed to have seen jets overhead. With Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah militants engaged in a standoff at the border between the two countries lately, the Israeli government issued a statement saying it had no involvement in the Beirut blast. Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement.
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