A massive explosion near Beirut, Lebanon killed at least 100 people, left more than 4,000 injured and sent shockwaves across the capital. The explosion shattered windows, causing apartment balconies to collapse, sources said.
The most powerful explosion to hit Beirut in years shook the ground, leaving some residents thinking an earthquake had struck. Weeping people walked through streets checking to see if relatives were hurt.
According to sources, the blast occurred in the city’s port area, where there were warehouses housing explosives. A third security source said there were chemicals stored in the area.
Footage of the blast shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast. Those filming what initially appeared to be a big blaze were thrown backwards by the shock of the explosion.
At least 10 bodies were taken to hospitals, a security source told. The Lebanese Red Cross said hundreds of people were taken hospitals for treatment.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to the presidency’s Twitter account.
The meeting was set to be held “at the Baabda Palace”, or Qantari Palace, the president’s official residence, the tweet read.
الرئيس عون دعا المجلس الاعلى للدفاع الى اجتماع طارئ مساء اليوم في قصر بعبدا
— Lebanese Presidency (@LBpresidency) August 4, 2020
It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze that set off the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim, touring the port area, said he would not preempt investigations. According to an Israeli official, Israel had nothing to do with the blast.