Videos capture massive explosion that rocked Lebanon’s Beirut

  • A massive explosion shook the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Tuesday, with many feared dead from the blast and resulting shock wave.
  • The cause of the blast, which originated near the city’s port, was not immediately clear. While early reports pointed to a fire at a fireworks storage facility, the director-general of Lebanese intelligence suggested that confiscated high-explosive materials stored at the local port triggered the explosion.
  • A red-orange cloud — the color of which could be explained by nitrates — lingered over part of the city after the explosion.
  • Numerous casualties and extensive damage have been reported in the city. Wednesday has been declared a national day of mourning.
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A massive explosion and a serious shock wave shook the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Tuesday. Emergency workers are responding to extensive damages and a high number of casualties.

Videos of the huge blast, the cause of which is still unclear, quickly surfaced on social media.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that a fire had broken out at a fireworks warehouse, suggesting that this might have triggered an explosion.

Local reports said that the blast was felt many miles away.

Some observers said they suspected that the massive explosion was caused by the ignition of a flammable source like a container full of fertilizer.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the director-general of Lebanese intelligence, dismissed the fireworks explanation as “ridiculous,” attributing the blast to confiscated high-explosive materials stored at the local port. Local media identified the material as sodium nitrate.

Ibrahim said, though, that he would not preempt the investigation.

A red-orange cloud — the color of which could be explained by nitrates — lingered over the blast site shortly after the explosion.

The full extent of the damage remains unclear, but local reports indicated that while the blast was focused on the port area, there was widespread damage in the city.

The National News Agency said there were “countless” casualties. The country’s health minister says that at least 25 people are dead and more than 2,500 have been wounded. The hospitals are overwhelmed to the point that some have had to turn people away.

The country’s prime minister said that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning.

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