Beirut blast kills dozens and leaves thousands injured

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Smoke plums rise from Beirut's port district - Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera

On Tuesday, the Lebanese capital Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion leaving over 50 dead and thousands injured.

Lebanon’s health minister claims approximately 3,000 people have been wounded in the blast which could be heard over 125 miles away in Cyprus according to witnesses.

Multiple videos have emerged showing massive plumes of smoke emerging from the city’s port areas with a massive explosion following shortly afterward. The explosion obliterated surrounding buildings leaving raging fires that firefighters were still battling late into the evening.

Damage occurred to districts miles away from the blast, highlighting the sheer enormity of the explosion.

In an official statement, General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said, “It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material.”

Originally built in 2014, the warehouse contained a mix of fertilizer and fireworks according to public officials. Lebanese Prime Minister Hasan Diab issued a televised address where he commented that “those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price,” declaring the following Wednesday a day of national mourning.

In response to the blast, Israel issued a statement denying any involvement with the catastrophe as tensions have continued between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah Lebanon’s southern border.

Britain, France, Israel and several Gulf nations have offered aid to Lebanon, a country that has suffered from worsening economic and political conditions for decades.

Describing the blast, Beirut’s ports governor likened the blast to Hiroshima and Nagasaki saying he had never witnessed such destruction. He further added that the source of the blast is currently unknown at this time.

Charbel Haj, a witness who works at the port, claims the explosion began as soon as small firework type explosions began to occur. As the explosion happened, Haj was thrown off his feet with his clothes torn to pieces.

Currently, Beirut residents and the world at large are waiting for further information on the definitive source of the explosion.

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