Massive Explosion Shakes Beirut (LIVE BLOG)

A large explosion struck the port of Beirut on August 4. (Photo: Wikimedia)

A large explosion struck the port of Beirut Tuesday afternoon, in the heart of the Lebanese capital. The blast wave from the explosion overturned vehicles, shattered windows and damaged buildings several kilometers away.

Some reports from the ground suggest that the blast was felt and heard almost 20-35km away from Beirut.

August 6, 2:30 pm (GMT +3)

Lebanon’s ministry of health said that the number of people killed in the blast at Beirut’s port reached 157, while 5,000 others have been injured.

August 6, 1 pm (GMT +3)

The European Commission is ready to help Lebanon with preferential trade and customs backing, the head of the EU executive said after a phone call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

August 6, 12:00 pm (GMT +3)

The Lebanese government has given an “investigative committee” four days to determine responsibility for the devastating explosion in Beirut port on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

August 6, 11:00 am (GMT +3)

French President Emmanuel Macron will go directly to the port and meet Lebanese and French teams in the disaster area upon his arrival in Beirut.

August 5, 5:20 pm (GMT +3)

As the Beirut governor announced that the explosion left up to 300,000 people temporarily homeless, Palestinian and Syrian refugees living in and on the outskirts of Beirut offered their homes and their blood to the victims, Newsweek reported.

August 5, 5:00 pm (GMT +3)

There appear to be clashes between protesters and forces loyal to the former prime minister, Saad Hariri.

August 5, 4:00 pm (GMT +3)

The European Union is activating its civil protection system to round up emergency workers and equipment from across the 27-nation bloc to help Beirut, according to the Associated Press.

Reuters quoted Lebanese economy minister, Raoul Nehme, as saying that the nation has less than a month’s reserves of the grain but still with enough flour to avoid a crisis.

August 5, 10:00 am (GMT +3)

The death toll from a huge explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday has reached 100, the Lebanese Red Cross has said, and more victims are under the rubble.

The Red Cross also told Lebanese TV that the organization was coordinating with the health ministry for morgues to take victims since hospitals were overwhelmed.

August 5, 5:00 am (GMT +3)

US President Donald Trump cast a massive explosion in Beirut as a possible attack, despite statements by Lebanese leaders that it was likely caused by highly explosive material that had been stored at warehouses in the capital for years.

“The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,” Trump said at a White House briefing of Tuesday’s explosion, which killed at least 78 people and injured thousands. “It looks like a terrible attack.”

When asked later about his depiction of the explosion, Trump said that he had met with some US generals who feel the blast was not “some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event.” He told reporters that according to these unnamed generals “they seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”

Two US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was unclear where Trump was receiving his information but that initial information did not appear to show that the explosion was an attack.

August 5, 01:00 am (GMT +3)

Lebanon’s Interior Minister said that the explosion was caused by thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse.

August 5, 00:30 am (GMT +3)

The death toll from the explosions in Beirut has climbed to 73, according to AFP, citing the Lebanese Health Ministry.

August 4, 11:00 pm (GMT +3)

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that those responsible for an explosion at a warehouse in the Beirut port area that rocked the capital would pay the price.

“I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability. … Those responsible will pay the price,” he declared in a televised speech. “Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations”.

August 4, 10:30 pm (GMT +3)

According to news agency Reuters, the massive explosion killed more than 25 people, injuring over 2,500 others.

August 4, 10:00 pm (GMT +3)

“A security source said victims were being taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were already packed with wounded. Red Cross ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to cope with the huge casualty toll,” Reuters reported.

August 4, 9:20 pm (GMT +3)

Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab will deliver a speech at 9:30 pm.

August 4, 8:40 pm (GMT +3)

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declares Wednesday a “national day of mourning”.

August 4, 8:00 pm (GMT +3)

Lebanese President Michael Aoun has called the Supreme Defence Council for an urgent emergency meeting in Baabda Palace.

According to the BBC, “the cause of the blast remains unknown”.

August 4, 7:00 pm (GMT +3)

“At least 10 bodies were taken to hospitals … The Lebanese Red Cross said hundreds of people were taken to hospitals for treatment,” news agency Reuters reported.

August 4, 6:00 pm (GMT +3)

Official reports claim the explosion was a result of fireworks which had malfunctioned, however social media users have said the port was targeted and a fuel ship was struck. Unconfirmed reports by local media suggest that the explosion took place in an area of the port used to store fireworks.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

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