Lebanon is in a state of shock today, Wednesday, a day after a deadly explosion in the Beirut port, which left hundreds of dead and wounded. The Supreme Defense Council declared the capital a "disaster city" and mourning for the victims of the explosion.
In the wake of this massive explosion, the Defense Council declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital, and handed over security duties to the military authorities.
A huge explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing tens of thousands and injuring thousands. Information indicates that the explosion was due to high-explosive materials that were confiscated years ago and stored in a warehouse in the Beirut port.
People were seen bleeding jogging and screaming for help in clouds of smoke and dust, while the streets looked as if they were hit by an earthquake, buildings were damaged, debris flattened and cars and furniture were destroyed.
Hours after the explosion, which occurred at six in the evening local time, the flames were still burning in the port area and emitting an orange glow in the dark sky while helicopters circled and ambulances rang out throughout the capital.
Al-Jazeera correspondent quoted medical sources as killing 100 people and wounding more than 3500 others in the preliminary statistics of the explosion, including foreigners and diplomatic mission staff.
Officials expect the death toll to rise as rescue teams search among the rubble in a large area of the city to remove the stranded people and recover the bodies. This is the fiercest explosion in years, in an economic crisis that is facing an increase in infections of the emerging Corona virus.
For his part, George Kittani, the Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross, said that several hospitals in the capital are unable to receive the injured due to the capacity exceeded.
Kettani indicated, in a previous interview with Al-Jazeera, that the Red Cross is evacuating a number of cases from hospitals to relieve the enormous pressure on them.
Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy said that investigations should be awaited to find out the cause of the explosion. But he added that preliminary information indicates high-explosive materials that were confiscated years ago that exploded in ward No. 12.
Pictures also showed the extent of the damage caused by the explosion in the vicinity of the Beirut port and a nearly complete change in the landmarks of the place, the damage extended to wide distances, and the windows of the houses were broken over a distance of about 23 km from the site of the accident.
The Baabda Palace, the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic located in the eastern suburb of Beirut, as well as the Presidency of the Government in the center of the capital, in addition to Beirut International Airport in the southern suburb, was damaged.
Video footage of the explosion, circulated by the population via social media, showed a plume of smoke rising from the port area, followed by a massive explosion that resulted in white smoke and a fire block in the sky. From the severity of the explosion, the people who were photographing it from the tall buildings in other parts of the city fell to the ground.
For his part, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that "the explosion that took place at the Beirut port will not pass without reckoning, and that those responsible for it will pay the price of their actions."
Diab added - in a brief address to the Lebanese - that facts will reveal after the end of the investigations of this warehouse, which he described as dangerous, calling on the Lebanese to unite in order to win the victims and heal the wounds of the nation.
A state of emergency,
in turn, President Michel Aoun presided over an emergency meeting of the Supreme Defense Council on Tuesday, devoted to discussing the causes of the explosion and facing its repercussions.
The president said that 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in the port for six years without safety measures, and that this was "unacceptable."
A council statement, broadcast live, stated that President Aoun decided to release the extraordinary accreditation stipulated in Article 85 of the Constitution and in the budget of the year 2020, which amounts to 100 billion pounds and is allocated to exceptional and emergency circumstances.
The US Embassy in Beirut issued a warning to the city's residents about reports of toxic gases caused by the explosion, and urged people to stay in homes and put masks in the state of availability.
It added in a statement that it calls on American citizens to avoid the areas affected by the explosion, and to follow the directions of the local authorities.
The explosion occurred three days before a United Nations-backed court issued its decision against four Hezbollah suspects in a 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 people.
Al-Hariri was assassinated in a large car bomb, about two kilometers from the port of Beirut.
Tuesday's explosion adds to the pain of a country that has been suffering for months from a severe economic crisis and intense political polarization, in a scene in which regional and international parties overlap.