This morning there was a massive explosion in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. It is not clear what caused the blast, but dozens of buildings have been damaged and it is possible that hundreds of people could have been killed. Some local media sources have reported that the explosion happened because of an accident at a fireworks factory.
A building next to the fireworks factory was reportedly storing a large amount of nitrate, which is believed to have caused a massive explosion when it was reached by the fire. However, this version of events was later disputed by authorities, who have said that it is far too early to come to any sure conclusions about what happened. Lebanese officials say that they are conducting an investigation to find out what caused the incident. Another point of confusion is that there were reports of separate explosions taking place in different areas, although the other explosions were much smaller than the large one shook the city.
Moment that the second explosion hit #Beirut Lebanon. Many houses damaged, injuries reported.
First was at Port. This is closer to downtown pic.twitter.com/6DdmgQFriD
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 4, 2020
Lebanese internal security chief Abbas Ibrahim has said that the blast came from a section of the port that housed highly explosive materials, but also declined to comment further because he does not want to “preempt” the ongoing investigations.
In videos that have been shared online, there were a series of small explosions in the midst of what appeared to be a fire at one of the buildings. After a few small explosions, a huge fireball lit up the sky and created a sort of mushroom cloud above the city.
Looks like lots of minor crackling explosions preceding the big blast. Local media reports fireworks storage. Unclear for now. pic.twitter.com/pzYp34qogG
— Tobias Schneider (@tobiaschneider) August 4, 2020
City Governor Marwan Abboud said that the destruction caused by the blast was “enormous” and described the city as a “disaster area.” So far, at least 10 people were confirmed dead, but considering the blast radius of the explosion, hundreds more are expected to be dead or injured. Rescue efforts are still ongoing, with emergency crews rushing to the disaster zone to find and help victims. There are still many people trapped in the rubble among the collapsed buildings.
— Abir Ghattas (@AbirGhattas) August 4, 2020
Israel was immediately suspected of being involved with some sort of attack considering the political situation in the area, but officials in Israel have denied any role in the explosion.
Lebanon is located in Western Asia. It is on the border of Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. The country is greatly affected by the conflicts that take place just over its borders, which include the current civil war in Syria and the complicated military politics of Israel.
The explosion comes at a time when Lebanon is in complete turmoil. Last month, Anonymous News reported that the country is facing a massive economic crisis, which has sparked civil unrest in many major cities, including Beirut. Last month, protests began in multiple Lebanese cities in response to a steep crash in the pound currency, which has lost about 70% of its value in the past 6 months. In some cases, central bank locations were set on fire by protesters.