Lebanon: 100 killed, 4,000 injured in the Beirut explosions

5th Aug 2020
Lebanon: 100 killed, 4,000 injured in the Beirut explosions

By Ria Shartouni

 

BEIRUT (AA) – The secretary-general of the Lebanese Red Cross on Wednesday said victims of Tuesday’s explosion at the Port of Beirut have risen to 100 and more than 4,000 were injured.

In a televised statement aired by Lebanese broadcaster LBC, George Kettaneh said Beirut hospitals no longer have the capacity to absorb the rising number of victims.

”Until now over 4,000 people have been injured and over 100 have lost their lives. Our teams are still conducting search and rescue operations in the surrounding areas,” the Lebanese Red Cross added in a statement on Wednesday.

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe. There are victims and casualties everywhere,” local media quoted Kettani.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun cited ammonium nitrate as the source of the explosion, which leveled a three-story building and was heard across the city and its suburbs.

He said an emergency cabinet meeting will be held on Wednesday, and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

The country will observe an official period of mourning for three days from Wednesday.

President Aoun also announced that the government would release 100 billion lira (£50.5m; $66m) of emergency funds.

The Higher Defense Council held an urgent session late Tuesday, in which he declared Beirut a devastated city.

Beirut governor Marwan Abboud told a local radio station that more than 100 people remain missing, including several firefighters. “Beirut has never gone through what it went through yesterday,” he said.

Heath Minister Hamad Hassan said late Tuesday that at least 63 people died and more than 2,750 have been wounded in the blast.

The Supreme Defense Council in Lebanon declared Beirut a disaster-stricken city, as part of decisions and recommendations to face the repercussions of the explosion.

Lebanese people were tweeting about their experiences:

@LaziRedhead  “Beirut fire department headed to the port when smokes were seen. My cousin was one of them. He and his other brave friends were inside the container trying to put out a normal fire they thought, when the explosion happened.”

@Beltrew: “Absolute chaos in #Beirut. Shattered shop fronts, injured people staggering around, alarms going off, ambulances trying to get to hospitals, the floor is glistening with shattered glass. In all my years of covering wars I have never experienced a blast like this. #Lebanon…My flat is completely destroyed. Not just windows blown in- like door and window frames ripped out. The cats are alive thank god.”

@amalsaad_lb : “An explosion in Beirut shattered our windows. My family and I literally thought our house was being shelled.”

Tuesday’s explosion deepens woes of the country that has been suffering for months from a severe economic crisis and intense political polarization.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat in Ankara

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Wounded family near where explosions took place in a warehouse at the Port of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020.  Photographer: Houssam Shbaro/AA]

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