Beirut’s day of destruction: Explosion lays waste to Lebanese capital

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Entire buildings were razed to rubble in Beirut yesterday after a chemical explosion punched through the city and wreaked devastation for miles. 

The industrial port that provides Lebanon with crucial trade routes was virtually flattened by the blast, which is believed by officials to have been caused at a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate.  

Sobering scenes showed citizens in despair as their homes were damaged, with walls blown through and windows shattered. 

Wounded men, women and children were seen navigating the mangled wreckage from buildings and debris which was sprayed all over the streets of the capital last night.  

Vital infrastructure such as hospitals sustained damage, as did the city’s airport despite its location six miles away from the blast site, laying bare the magnitude of the trauma.

The explosion, which has killed at least 73 and injured at least 3,700,  laid waste to sections of the city as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades. 

Entire buildings were razed to rubble in Beirut yesterday after a chemical explosion punched through the city and wreaked devastation for miles 

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut today. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut today. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

Sombering scenes showed citizens in despair as their homes were damaged, with walls blown through and windows shattered

Sombering scenes showed citizens in despair as their homes were damaged, with walls blown through and windows shattered

A view of damages at a house in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

Paola Rebeiz  was watching television when a blast in central Beirut hit her home in St Nicolas, around a kilometre south of the site of the explosion, shattering all of her windows

The blast inflicted severe damage to people’s homes. Paola Rebeiz was watching television when a blast in central Beirut hit her home in St Nicolas, around a kilometre south of the site of the explosion, shattering all of her windows (right)

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion 

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

Fires burning at the port on Beirut well into the night following an explosion, believed to be from chemicals

Fires burning at the port on Beirut well into the night following an explosion, believed to be from chemicals 

Smoke billows at the site of the large explosion and buildings are reduced to twisted wreckages

Smoke billows at the site of the large explosion and buildings are reduced to twisted wreckages 

The blast ripped through buildings and blew bricks out of walls and brought them crashing down on to the street.

The blast ripped through buildings and blew bricks out of walls and brought them crashing down on to the street. 

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

Dramatic footage on social media shows people screaming as an enormous blast rocks the waterside area of Lebanon's capital city

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

People ride past a car destroyed after a building wall collapsed because of the blast which wreaked havoc for miles

People ride past a car destroyed after a building wall collapsed because of the blast which wreaked havoc for miles

Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million

 Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million

The explosion laid waste to sections of the city as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades

The explosion laid waste to sections of the city as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades

Firefighters douse a blaze at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut

Firefighters douse a blaze at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut

The lobby of a building overlooking the Lebanese capital Beirut's central Martyrs' Square, with rubble and debris from covering the street following massive explosions earlier at the nearby port of Beirut

The lobby of a building overlooking the Lebanese capital Beirut’s central Martyrs’ Square, with rubble and debris from covering the street following massive explosions earlier at the nearby port of Beirut

Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million.

Several of Beirut’s hospitals were damaged in the blast, with Roum Hospital putting out a call for people to bring it spare generators to keep its electricity going as it evacuated patients because of heavy damage. 

Outside the St George University Hospital in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighbuorhood, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.

The explosion had caused major damage inside the building and knocked out the electricity at the hospital. 

Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered. 

Residents said glass was broken in houses from Raouche, on the Mediterranean city’s western tip, to Rabieh 10 km (6 miles) east). 

Beirut’s main airport, six miles away from the port, was reportedly damaged by the explosion, with pictures showing sections of collapsed ceiling. 

And in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island lying 110 miles (180 km) northwest of Beirut, residents reported hearing two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters. 

A huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky

A huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky

A car was flung upside down by the blast which hit Beirut yesterday and caused widespread damage

A car was flung upside down by the blast which hit Beirut yesterday and caused widespread damage

There was a structure fire near the port of Beirut followed by a second massive explosion, which damaged surrounding buildings and injured thousands

There was a structure fire near the port of Beirut followed by a second massive explosion, which damaged surrounding buildings and injured thousands

Vital infrastructure such as hospitals sustained damage, as did the city's airport despite its location six miles away from the blast site, laying bare the magnitude of the trauma

Vital infrastructure such as hospitals sustained damage, as did the city’s airport despite its location six miles away from the blast site, laying bare the magnitude of the trauma

Rescue crews search a street for survivors after a large explosion caused buildings to collapse

Rescue crews search a street for survivors after a large explosion caused buildings to collapse

The country’s health minister said more than 3,700 have been wounded following the blast at the city’s industrial port, where hazardous chemicals are stored in warehouses.

Dramatic footage from around 6pm local time shows smoke billowing from the harbour area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud. 

Witnesses have stressed the sheer enormity of the blast, which was heard 125 miles away in Cyprus, and likened it to a ‘nuclear bomb’.

It obliterated the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even inflicted damage on districts miles away from the blast site. 

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said: ‘It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material.’   

Lebanon’s interior minister said ammonium nitrate had been stored in the unit since 2014, with experts agreeing that the chemical would cause the red plume of smoke which burst up from the blast.

Local media are reporting that 2,700 tonnes of the chemical exploded, which scientists making initial calculations said was about three kilotonnes of TNT – roughly a fifth of the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the Second World War.

A ‘strange smell’ at the port has apparently led officials to instruct civilians to leave for fear of any harmful toxins. 

Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed in a televised address that ‘those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price,’ and declared Wednesday a day of national mourning.  

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city's port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city’s port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion earlier today

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion earlier today

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