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Beirut “Like a war zone”: Terrifying blast shockwave rips through city

Two major explosions shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut, with eyewitness footage capturing the blasts and showing the devastation wreaked in the surrounding area. The blasts have been blamed on a fireworks accident.

The first blast struck the city’s port shortly after 6pm local time on Tuesday.

Within minutes, reports flowed in of another more devastating explosion. Video footage captured the shock wave striking buildings kilometers away, as a massive mushroom cloud of dust and debris was shot into the sky.

Lebanon’s Ministry of Health instructed all available hospitals to prepare to receive the wounded, while the country’s health minister said on TV that there are a “very high” number of injuries.

The second explosion struck as smoke was still rising from the first, and appeared to happen in the same vicinity.

Local Akhbar News correspondent Jenan Moussa reports:

Beirut governor Marwan Aboud calls the explosion a ‘national disaster akin to Hiroshima.’

The explosion could be seen throughout the city and appears to have happened in the port area of the city.

The explosion could be seen and felt for dozens of miles around the Lebanese capital, leaving onlookers in shock. It was so massive a small mushroom cloud could be seen over the city, and it was felt in Cyprus.

However, some Lebanese broadcasters in the early mayhem and confusion cited possible “missile” impact, though this increasingly doesn’t appear to be the case. There appear to be multiple, possibly scores, of dead and wounded.

Hospitals are reportedly already overwhelmed:

Health Minister Hamad Hassan told local media that a ship carrying fireworks exploded in the port.

Video footage lends weight to his explanation, as it shows a small explosion followed by the crackling of fireworks, before a second and massively destructive blast.

Local residents have shared images showing extensive damage to property. The office of the Daily Star newspaper was smashed by the blast, with windows blown out and furniture flung to the ground. France24 correspondent Leila Molana-Allen said that her apartment was “blown apart,” adding that she thinks the blast was caused by a “missile from a jet.”

Molana-Allen’s neighbors, she added, were left “covered in glass and blood.”

CNN is reporting that homes up to ten kilometres away were damaged, with windows shattered and widespread destruction across large swathes of Beirut.

A number of local residents on social media were worried they had just been hit by a mini-nuke, though it’s increasingly being verified that the source was a fireworks depot on the port.

Source: AGENCIES

Notes:

Israel not behind Beirut blast, sources on both sides say; at least 10 killed

Both Israel AND Hezbollah deny devastating Lebanon blasts were a rocket attack

The Israeli Defense Force has denied responsibility for two massive explosions in Beirut that killed at least 10 people on Tuesday and injured hundreds more. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

In a statement issued immediately following the blasts, the IDF has denied responsibility for the explosions. Israeli government officials had previously accused Hezbollah of using the Beirut port to transport weapons, and while no proof has been produced to back these allegations, accounts friendly to the Israeli military quickly swarmed Twitter to revive them.

Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth also signed on to the “blame Hezbollah” camp, suggesting – absent a shred of evidence – that the explosions were “Hezbollah’s way of saying don’t mess with us for allegedly killing former Lebanese PM Hariri” before hurriedly deleting his tweet.