BEIRUT: Two massive explosions devastated Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 78 people, injuring thousands more, and sending an enormous blast wave across the city that shattered windows, knocked down doors and shook buildings, reported the Guardian.
Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the main blast at Beirut’s port was caused when an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been ignited. He said the chemical had been left unsecured for six years in a warehouse, and vowed to punish those responsible.
As the death toll climbed on the discovery of more bodies in the wreckage, at least 4,000 were reported injured. Hundreds of homes were left uninhabitable by the blast which also destroyed huge grain silos, a devastating blow to a country where bread was already scarce and which is dependent on imports by sea.
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”.
The American University of Aerosol Research Lab’s indicators showed that air quality levels had returned to “Good” by 7pm on Tuesday, however, after showing “Moderate” levels of particulate matter an hour earlier.
Thousands of people sought treatment in nearby hospitals, which were struggling to cope with the casualties. Cars were left strewn across the surrounding highway, and the blast was heard up to 80km (50 miles) away in the country’s north. The health minister, Hamad Hassan, put the confirmed death toll at 78, with at least 4,000 injured.