Beirut: Hezbollah depot blew up along with 2,750 tons of highly explosive chemicals killing at least 78, wounding 4,000
Massive explosions that rocked the city of Beirut were fueled by a 2,750-ton shipment of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in port warehouses since 2013, Lebanon’s prime minister announced.
The huge explosion has killed at least 78 people, left 4,000 more injured and wreaked devastation on the city.
“I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” Prime Minister Hassan Diab told reporters on Tuesday evening.
A ‘strange smell’ at the port has apparently led officials to instruct civilians to leave for fear of any harmful toxins.
It was not immediately clear why the ammonium nitrate was stored at that location, or how it ended up there.
Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud.
Hezbollah-linked Al Mayadeen channel denied reports that the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike while al-Arabiyah reported the explosion occurred at a Hezbollah missile storage warehouse.
In a tweet, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called the explosion a “security incident that targeted the Beirut port.” According to Lebanese media, he lives nearby but wasn’t hurt in the explosion.
Lebanon Army Major Gen. Abbas Ibrahim told reporters that most likely that stored explosives were the cause of the blast.
The US Embassy in Beirut released a statement advising that people wear masks and stay indoors, following “reports of toxic gases released in the explosion”.
Lebanon’s Health Minister said those who can, should leave Beirut since the remnants of the explosion can have long term deadly effects.
Many people’s windows were shattered by the blast making it difficult to avoid breathing the air outside.
Several of Beirut’s hospitals were damaged in the blast and were overwhelmed with more than 4,000 wounded patients.
Governments worldwide have offered support, including the UK, France, Australia, the US, Canada and Israel.
Israeli officials said that Israel is not connected to the explosion in Beirut.
Under the direction of Defense Minister Gantz and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, through diplomatic channels and officials, Israel has offered the Lebanese government humanitarian assistance, including equipment and to treat some of the wounded in Israel.
Ziv and Rambam hospitals in northern Israel said they are ready to assist Lebanon.
The IDF notified Ziv Medical Center that possibly UN personnel injured in the blast will arrive overnight for treatment.
In 2018, PM Netanyahu exposed three sites in Beirut that were being used by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group to hide underground precision missile production facilities, including the Beirut international airport and the port of Beirut.
“Hezbollah is using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields,” PM Netanyahu said at the time, showing a picture of a missile site underneath a soccer stadium.