Editor’s note: Some of the images and video in this article may be disturbing to some viewers
BEIRUT — A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. At least 70 people were killed and 3,000 injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said.
The Lebanese Red told local TV there were hundreds of casualties, although many were superficial wounds from broken glass during the blast, which happened around 6:30 p.m. local time
Images shared online show widespread damage across the capital and surrounding areas after the explosion. The cause of the explosion has not yet been confirmed, however, local media reports are now quoting a high level security chief as saying the blast was in an area of the port that contained highly explosive materials.
Earlier reports suggested the blast was in an area where firecrackers were stored.
Reports of TWO explosions in Beirut. This video and others being shared are frightening to say the least. https://t.co/SEMaHIoz2J
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) August 4, 2020
It was stunning even for a city that has been shaken by civil war, suicide bombings and bombardment by Israel.
Dozens of ambulances ferried the injured from the port area to hospitals, many of which reportedly were at capacity.
The Red Cross put out an urgent call for blood donations of all types, adding all resources from the country’s north, south, and Bekaa regions were being diverted to help rescue and evacuation efforts.
— Zaiنab Hijazi (@zainabhijazi97) August 4, 2020
Some footage from central Beirut shows people hurt on the ground and buildings crumbling.
A fire seen in video raging at the port sent up a giant column of smoke, illuminated by flashes of what appear to be fireworks. The fire then appeared to catch at a nearby building, triggering a more massive explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and a shock wave over the city.
Close-up video showing what sounds like fireworks going off in the #Beirut port, followed by a massive explosion.
Source unknown pic.twitter.com/HZklBoSTav
— Beirut Today (@bey_today) August 4, 2020
The explosion shattered windows miles away, with reports of damage even at the country’s Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport.
Some areas, including the Beirut Souks — a major commercial district in Beirut’s central district — and downtown core, were unrecognizable after the blast.
BREAKING: Massive explosion in Beirut. Footage from the daily star office now in Lebanon pic.twitter.com/2uBsKP5wCH
— Ghada Alsharif (@GhadaaSharif) August 4, 2020
The explosion came at a time when Lebanon is passing through its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.
It also comes amid rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon’s southern border.