The most powerful explosion to hit Beirut in years shook the ground, leaving some residents thinking an earthquake had struck. Dazed and weeping, some of them wounded, people walked through streets checking to see if relatives were hurt. The blast occurred in the city’s port area, where there were warehouses housing explosives, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources said. A third security source said there were chemicals stored in the area.
A witness, Hadi Nasrallah, has said local media do not believe the cause of the tragic explosion.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “The media are fighting a war about what actually happened or not saying the same thing.
“Some media are saying that it’s a firework warehouse and another news station is saying that it was explosive chemicals that existed in that warehouse and because a fire broke out the explosion happened.
“But another news outlet is saying that they do not believe the fireworks story or any other theory.
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“They’re saying to the Government it must be something hidden in the area that has something to do with explosions or chemicals that are used for explosive material.
“Right now, we have no information to confirm any theory so I think we have to wait for investigations and the words of experts.”
The cause of the blast is currently unknown.
The US State Department is closely following reports of an explosion in Beirut and stands ready to offer ‘all possible assistance’, a spokesperson for the agency said, as a massive blast ripped through the Lebanese capital.
The UK “is ready to offer help and support” to those affected by a huge blast in the Lebanese capital Beirut, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
In a tweet, Mr Raab said: “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the devastating explosion in #Beirut today.
“The UK stands in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and is ready to offer help and support, including to those British nationals impacted.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a tweet: “The images of explosions in Beirut are deeply worrying. Our thoughts are with those affected, the emergency services and the people of Lebanon.”