Xinhua News Agency, Beirut, August 4 (Reporter Li Liangyong) A violent explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, on the evening of the 4th. At least 73 people have been killed and 3,700 injured.
At around 18:10 on the 4th local time, a violent explosion occurred in the Beirut port area. The office building where the Xinhua News Agency reporter is located is about 5 kilometers away from the port. The reporter first felt the building shake, then heard the explosion and saw pink mushroom clouds and thick smoke rising in the sky. The explosion was deafening and could be heard by residents of Byblos in the north and Saida in the south.
The explosion caused severe damage to several blocks of Beirut, with broken buildings and scattered glass shards everywhere. In the Ashrafiyah neighborhood near the explosion site, Bilal, a resident, told Xinhua News Agency reporters that the entire neighborhood was “like a disaster,” and many people were injured. According to local media reports, the presidential palace building more than 10 kilometers away from the explosion site was also damaged.
Nearly two hours after the incident, smoke was still billowing on the scene. Some containers were lifted and deformed in the explosion. The warehouse next to it was in a mess, and cardboard boxes and other items were scattered everywhere. Talal, an employee of the car repair shop tens of meters from the explosion point, was in shock and did not even want to recall the situation at the time of the incident. His friend said that many employees of the garage were injured and were taken to the hospital.
After the explosion, a large number of ambulances rushed to the scene to transport the casualties. Many fire trucks went to the scene to fight the fire, and the military also dispatched multiple helicopters to help put out the fire. The military and police set up blockades in the surrounding area to prohibit unrelated persons from entering the port area.
Lebanese Minister of Health Hassan said on the same day that preliminary statistics showed that at least 73 people were killed and 3,700 were injured in the explosion. Due to the limited capacity of Beirut's hospitals, he called for the casualties to be dispersed to surrounding hospitals and called on all medical staff to participate in the treatment of the wounded.
At present, the specific cause of the explosion is not yet known. Some Lebanese media reported that a fire broke out in a warehouse in the port and caused an explosion. Witnesses said that there were two explosions that day, separated by a few seconds. Lebanese Interior Minister Fahmi said that the explosion may have been caused by the chemical ammonium nitrate stored in the port warehouse in 2014.
President Lei Aoun convened an emergency security meeting that day, instructed the military to do a good job after the explosion, and asked relevant departments to provide free treatment for the wounded and provide help to families who suffered huge losses or were displaced.
Lebanese Prime Minister Diab inspected the explosion site that day, and then declared the 5th as a national day of mourning and said that Lebanon would seek help from the international community.