Shomporko Desk:-BEIRUT – Residents of Beirut confronted a scene of absolute devastation Wednesday, a day after a monstrous blast at the port undulated over the Lebanese capital, killing in any event 100 individuals, injuring thousands and leaving whole city squares covered with glass and rubble.
Smoke despite everything rose from the port, where a transcending working of storehouses was half obliterated, spilling out the grain. Storages around it were totally brought down. The impact took out a hole approximately 200 meters (yards) over that loaded up with seawater – maybe the ocean had whittled down the port, gulping structures with it.
A lot of downtowns were covered with harmed vehicles and flotsam and jetsam that had poured down from the broken exteriors of structures.
An official with the Lebanese Red Cross said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded. George Kettaneh said the toll could rise further.
The blast appeared to have been triggered by a fire that touched off a cargo of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the port for years, though it was unclear what sparked the fire. Hitting with the force of an earthquake, it was the most powerful explosion ever seen in the city, which was split in half by the 1975-1990 civil war and has endured conflicts with neighbouring Israel and periodic bombings and terror attacks.
Scores of people were missing, with relatives pleading on social media for help locating loved ones. An Instagram page called “Locating Victims Beirut” sprang up with photos of missing, and radio presenters read names of missing or wounded people throughout the night. Many residents moved in with friends or relatives after their apartments were damaged and treated their own injuries because hospitals were overwhelmed.
Lebanon was already on the brink of collapse amid a severe economic crisis, and its capacity to deal with the disaster is crippled. With buildings severely damaged, potentially large numbers are now homeless at a time when many have lost their jobs and seen their savings evaporate because of a currency crisis. Food security is a worry since Lebanon imports nearly all its vital goods and its main port is devastated.
The health system is confronting a coronavirus surge, and there were concerns the virus could spread further as people flooded into hospitals.
There was no evidence the explosion was an attack. Instead, many Lebanese blamed it on decades of corruption and poor governance by the entrenched political class that has ruled the tiny Mediterranean country since the civil war.
The blast also wounded a number of U.N. peacekeepers at the port, including 21 Bangladeshis and one Italian. Two Egyptians and an Australian citizen were known to be among the dead.
Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station that it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship impounded in 2013.
Explosives experts and video footage suggested the ammonium nitrate may have been ignited by a fire at what appeared to be a nearby warehouse containing fireworks.
Ammonium nitrate is a common ingredient in fertilizer as well as explosives. It was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, when a truck bomb containing 2,180 kilograms (4,800 pounds) of fertilizer and fuel oil ripped through a federal building, killing 168 people and wounding hundreds more.
“There are no words to describe the catastrophe that hit Beirut last night,” President Michel Aoun said at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. He vowed an investigation and that those responsible will be punished.
Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the government will help find shelter for those who lost their homes and compensate others whose property was damaged.
Diab, in a short televised speech, appealed for international aid, saying: “We are witnessing a real catastrophe.”
There were signs of public anger already brewing.
Photo credit: AFP Photo/STR
News source: The Associated Press