BEIRUT— On Tuesday, August 4, at 6:07 p.m. an explosion ripped through the capital city of Beirut in Lebanon. The impact killed dozens, injured thousands, damaged buildings, and left glass shattered throughout the streets.
At least 78 were killed and 4,000 have been wounded, said Health Minister Hamad Hasan.
The moment a massive explosion rocked Beirut. Video courtesy of @eurochandotorg via Twitter.
“There are many people missing until now. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity. We are facing a real catastrophe and need time to assess the extent of damages,” Hasan said according to Reuters.
The exact cause of the explosion is unknown. It was initially blamed on a fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port of Beirut. The General Security Directorate, an intelligence agency, later said that it was caused by high explosive materials that were confiscated years ago.
Lebanse Prime Minister Hassan Dias said in a statement that an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored at a warehouse in Beirut for six years. This has been suspected to be what ignited the explosion and will be investigated.
“I will not rest until we find those responsible for what happened, hold them accountable, and impose maximum punishment,” said Prime Minister Dias.
The city’s governor, Marwan Abboud, cried as he explained the scene of the destruction. He said: “It looks like what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In my life I haven’t seen destruction on this scale. This is a national catastrophe.”
The US Embassy in Beirut urged those near the explosion to “stay indoors and wear masks if available” to avoid toxic gases released from the blast.
U.S. President Donald. Trump said the explosion in Beirut “looks like a terrible attack.”
“Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,” added Trump.