Bodies lying on the street, car carcasses and factories collapsed. Two major blasts at Beirut port Tuesday triggered destruction scenes, leaving 50 dead and 2,750 injured, sowing chaos in the Lebanese capital.
In an official’s statement about the origin of the blasts, General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim indicated that they may have been due to “explosives confiscated for years,” but added waiting until the investigation ended.
A first explosion was heard at the end of the afternoon followed by another very powerful one which produced a gigantic heavenly mushroom. Buildings were trembling and the windows from the blast scene were shattered several miles away.
The blast wave was felt as far as Cyprus island about 200 km away. Soldier rescued shocked civilians in the streets, some soaked in blood, their T-shirts around their heads to heal their wounds.
Volunteers helped others find help. In the harbor, carcasses of cars on top of each other, warehouse frame on the ground
“It’s a disaster inside. There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are taking the bodies away, ” a soldier near the port told AFP. A man in tears was trying to hear from a soldier about his son who was in port.
Several hours after the tragedy, helicopters continued to pour downpours in an attempt to extinguish the flames. President Michel Aoun has called an “urgent meeting” of the Supreme Defense Council and Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared a day of national mourning. Without mentioning the exact causes of the tragedy, Mr. Diab said those responsible for this “disaster” should “be held to account”.
In Israel, a neighboring country that has launched many military operations against Lebanon in recent decades, a government official told AFP that his country “had nothing to do with the incident” on condition of anonymity.
“It was like an atomic bomb. I saw everything, but nothing like it, ” Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired professor, who has lived in front of the port for more than 60 years, told AFP. “All the surrounding buildings collapsed,” he said.
The blasts caused major damage to the Baabda Presidential Palace, located about fifteen kilometers from the center of Beirut, according to the National News Agency: glass smashed, and windows and doors blown out.
The port sector was cordoned off by security forces, which require only civil defense ambulances with screaming sirens and firefighters, according to AFP correspondents at the port entrance
Cars were abandoned in the center of the highways, with their faulty airbags but also buses. The blasts caused heavy damage to homes near the terminal.
“We saw some smoke and then an explosion. Then the mushroom. The force of the explosion propelled us back into the apartment, ” said a resident of the Manssouriyeh neighbourhood, several kilometres from the port.
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