Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hasan said an explosion in central Beirut on Tuesday had caused a “very high number of injuries” and extensive damage, Lebanese LBC television channel quoted the minister as saying. Its state news agency NNA and two security sources said the blast had occurred in the port area where there are warehouses housing explosives. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses. Lebnanese security and medical sources have said at least 10 people have died.
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 chemcials stored in the area.
Footage of the blast shared around by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast. Those who filming what initially appeared to be a big blaze where thrown backwards by the shock.
One witness told Reuters: “I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding.
“Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street.”
READ MORE:Beirut explosion: What is happening in Lebanon’s capital?
Another added: All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around.
“It is total chaos.”
The governor of Beirut port told Sky News that a team of firefighters at the scene had “disappeared” after the explosion.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters it was not immediately clear what the cause was, and that there was no indication of any injuries to any UN personnel.
He said: “We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it’s accidental or manmade act.”
The US Pentagon also made a statement: “We are aware of the explosion and are concerned for the potential loss of life due to such a massive explosion.”
In Cyprus, an island lying west of Lebanon, residents reported two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.
The Trump administration is closely tracking the deadly explosion in Beirut, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a news briefing on Tuesday, but she offered no details about the causes of the blast.
More to follow…