BEIRUT—The capital of Lebanon was impacted by explosions on Tuesday, August 4. Two explosions occurred at the city’s waterfront around 11:30 a.m. The second explosion, which was larger than the first, overturned cars, shattered window glass, and collapsed an entire building.
According to the Lebanese Minister of Health, Hamas Hassan, more than 73 people are confirmed dead and 2,750 are wounded.
On Twitter the government announced that the president requested military aid to the scene of the explosions and called a Supreme Defense Council emergency meeting for Tuesday night.
The cause of the blast was initially unclear. At first, it was reported that the explosions began as a major fire at a fireworks warehouse near the port.
A top military official told the New York Times that the government stored “highly explosive materials,” large quantities of ammonium nitrate, at the scene of the blast.
One hospital started turning people away and transporting patients to hospitals outside of the capital.
Public Health Minister Hassan said the ministry would be covering the cost of all hospital treatments given to those wounded by the blast. He also notified state news, that he had contacted the World Health Organization to bring aid to Beirut by plane.
The Lebanese Red Cross is reported as having sent every available ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa, and South Lebanon to Beirut.
In a televised speech, the country’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, “I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability […] those responsible will pay the price […] Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations.”
Diab announced that Wednesday, August 5, would be a day of national mourning. The explosion occurred less than a mile away from the Kataeb Party’s headquarters. They are Lebanon’s Christian political group.
The group’s Secretary General, Nizar Najarian, was killed by wounds he received during the blast. The chairman of the state-owned electricity company, Electricite du Liban, is in critical condition.
Various surrounding countries have offered aid. In a statement with the state’s news agency, Saudi Arabia offers full support and solidarity with the Lebanese people.
Israel offered humanitarian aid through foreign channels for the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations. Many have taken to social media to show solidarity with the city.
In Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the Egyptian Pyramids outside of Cairo have been lit up with the colors of the Lebanese flag to pay tribute to those killed in the blast.