On Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 6 p.m.. local time, or approximately 2 p.m. Eastern time, two massive explosions rocked the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The main explosion flipped cars, damaged surrounding buildings and was felt as far away as Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean 145 miles away. It registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. At least 135 have been killed and 5,000 have been injured according to Health Minister Hamad Hasan.
“There are many people missing until now,” Hasan said in an interview with Reuters. Marwan Abboud, Beurit’s governor, said approximately 300,000 civilians lost in their homes in the explosion. The main explosion also ruined nearby grain silos, which is a devastating blow for the country after years which has been suffering instability but seemed to be moving in the right before the coronavirus became a crushing economic blow to the country.
Conflicting reports originated about the origins of the explosion, but officials believe it can be traced to explosives in a warehouse that had been confiscated a few years ago. Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced there would be an investigation into the real reason for the explosion.
Officials think 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate seized in 2014 may be the cause, but can’t be sure. A recommendation has been made that people in the city wear masks due to the potential for toxic gas being released from the explosions.
Hospitals are inundated with injured from the explosions. Injuries range from broken bones to cuts from shards of glass raining down on people in the streets. The Secretary-General of the Kataeb political party was pronounced dead due to injuries from the explosion.
He was in his office when the explosion occurred. According to President Aoun, there will be a three day mourning period and the government will release 10 billion lire, or $66 million, in emergency relief funds.
As of now, the cause is being listed as an accident and Israel has denied any involvement, offering aid to the country instead.
Great Britain, too, will dispense five million pounds, or $6.6 million, in aid. President Trump fueled rumors that the incident was due to nefarious means, tweeting that he had been informed that it was an attack and a bomb had been set off.
Two US officials who remain anonymous stated it wasn’t clear where Trump had received the information as nothing at the time pointed to any sort of deliberate attack.
More deaths are expected as crews comb through the rubble over the coming days.