Huge explosion rocks Beirut with widespread damage and injuries

Blast in Beirut

A massive explosion has rocked central Beirut, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital of Lebanon.

It appeared that a smaller explosion or fire was followed by a much larger blast, which created a devastating shockwave and led to a large reddish-brown column of smoke rising high into the air.

Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said there were dead and wounded, but did not have an exact figure – just saying there were hundreds of casualties.

Read on...

A civil defence official on the scene of the blast said his men had evacuated dozens to hospitals and that there were still bodies inside the port, many of them under debris.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

It was stunning even for a city that has been shaken by civil war, suicide bombings and bombardment by Israel.

Dozens of ambulances ferried the injured from the port area, where the wounded lay on the ground, Associated Press staff at the scene said. Hospitals called for blood donations.

The head of the Lebanese Red Cross told local TV there were hundreds of casualties although many were superficial wounds from broken glass.

Lebanon Explosion
Aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in in Beirut (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Video taken by residents showed a fire raging at the port, sending up a giant column of smoke, illuminated by flashes of what appear to be fireworks. Local TV stations reported that a fireworks warehouse was involved.

The fire then appeared to catch at a nearby building, triggering a more massive explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and a shock wave over the city.

“It was like a nuclear explosion,” said Walid Abdo, a 43-year-old school teacher in the neighbourhood of Gemayzeh near Beirut.

Charbel Haj, who works at the port, said it started as small explosions like firecrackers, then the huge blast erupted and he was thrown off his feet. His clothes were torn.

Miles from the port, balconies were knocked down, windows shattered, streets were covered with glass and bricks and lined with wrecked cars. Motorcyclists picked their way through traffic, carrying the injured.

Lebanon Explosion
Civilians carry a victim at the explosion scene (Hussein Malla/AP)

The blast came at a time when Lebanon’s economy is facing collapse, hit both by a financial crisis and coronavirus restrictions. Many have lost jobs, while the worth of their savings has evaporated as the currency has plunged in value against the dollar. The result has thrown many into poverty.

It also comes amid rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon’s southern border.

Lebanon Explosion
People gather at the damaged main entrance of Beirut’s seaport where the explosion hit (Hussein Malla/AP)

The explosion was reminiscent of massive blasts during Lebanon’s civil war and took place only three days before a UN-backed tribunal was set to give its verdict in the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in a truck bombing more than 15 years ago.

That explosion, with a ton of explosives, was felt miles away, just like Tuesday’s explosion.

It was the latest chapter for a country that has suffered a 15-year civil war, repeated conflict with Israel, political assassinations and various other crises including the current unprecedented financial and economic crisis.

Featured image via Twitter – Nader Itayim

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us