Lebanon, a country for decades crippled by chaos and struggle, is in mourning following a massive explosion ripped through Beirut’s port on Tuesday killing over 90 people and injuring 5,000 innocent people.
The scale of the calamity had laid bare once the capital woke on with rescue crews looking through the debris of areas. Hospitals are struggling to deal with the influx of casualties.
The president advocated a state of crisis after authorities blamed the explosion that sent a shockwave creating houses uninhabitable, falling roofs, and shattering windows on a store of the compound ammonium nitrate.
The explosion, at 6:08 pm local time Tuesday, was so loud it was felt in Cyprus, 120 kilometers away. It left cars with blown-out windows strewn on highways and a town. Areas had shown by footage posted on social media in ruins.
“There are a lot of people missing. Many asking the emergency department about their relatives and it’s tough to look at night since there is no electricity,” Health Minister Hamad Hasan said. Reported on Reuters.
President Michel Aoun declared a mourning period and stated the authorities would launch 100 billion lire (50- 66 million USD) of emergency capital.
From the immediate aftermath, Beirutis stood among the dust and the debris, the shards of glass, and also the burning plants, and they cried for assistance.
At the port on Tuesday evening, a girl in her twenties stood yelling at security forces, asking about the fate of her brother inside. “His name is Jad, his eyes are green,” she pleaded, but security forces were resolute in their refusal to allow her input. While inquiring nearby, another girl fainted.
A soldier stationed there stated: “it’s a catastrophe inside”. “There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are still lifting the dead.” Aoun stated 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored unsafely at a warehouse for six decades.
He said a state of emergency ought to be declared and advised an urgent cabinet meeting.
A fireball and cloud then suddenly consumed the first plume of smoke, sending a scudding across the city.
Wheat had crushed by the blasts from the granaries of the port, paralyzed from the disasters of coronavirus as well as an economic meltdown and causing fears of a looming food crisis across a country afflicted bread shortages.
Lebanon imports about 90% of its wheat used for producing the country’s basic flatbread — together with the vast majority coming through the ruined port. The port granaries held about 85 percent of the cereals of the country.
But the most immediate fear was for its casualties, along with a health system straining due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the aftermath of the explosion, thousands of people sought treatment in nearby hospitals, which have to struggle to cope, or had damaged by the blast. A doctor at St George’s hospital, less than 2km from the blast, said injured people needed treatment but the hospital has destroyed.
“They are treating them out on the road. Said an ambulance driver.
A security source told AFP that victims of the explosion had been taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were overwhelmed by wounded. Ambulances in south and north of the nation and the Bekaa valley to the east had called in to help.
The Red Cross issued an urgent help note for blood donors. The US embassy in Beirut cautioned citizens in town about reports of gases urging people to use masks if accessible and to stay inside.
President Donald Trump resisted the confusion swirling in the hours after the explosion, by referring to it in off-the-cuff opinions as”an assault”, adding that”some of our great generals” had told him”it was a bomb of some sort”.
US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that it was unsure from where Trump had been receiving his information. Still, that first information did not appear to prove that the explosion was an attack.
The final death toll has expected to climb significantly as rescue crews start combing through damaged buildings.
“It was just like a movie, a massive blast” explained Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired state official in her mid-70s who has dwelt near the port for decades.
“I’ve experienced all, but nothing like that before,” even though the country’s 1975-1990 civil war,” he explained.
The destruction comes as Lebanon is grappling with an economic meltdown that has slashed incomes and occupations and contributed to soaring federal poverty, and additionally amid increasing tensions between Israel and Hezbollah along Lebanon’s southern boundary.
All employees at the embassy in Beirut have accounted for, but a few have sustained”non-life-threatening injuries”, Boris Johnson stated.
The United Nations reported that 48 of its staff in Beirut, 27 of the relatives, and three visitors were one of the wounded.