Massive explosion in Beirut The cause of the blast was not immediately known
A massive explosion rocked Beirut, Lebanon, with the force of an earthquake followed by a shock wave that devastated much of the city and probably caused hundreds of casualties.
The blast followed a fire that broke out in the city’s port area, based on a video from the scene. The cause of the blast was not immediately known. The force shook buildings, which were hit again by the shock wave that blew out windows, sending shards of glass flying.
Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said there were hundreds of dead and wounded but did not have an exact figure.
Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud called it a “national catastrophe,” and the prime minister declared a day of mourning.
The massive explosions rocked downtown Beirut, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris.
Video taken by residents showed a fire raging at the port, sending up a giant column of smoke, illuminated by flashes of what appear to be fireworks. Local TV stations reported that a fireworks warehouse was involved.
The fire then appeared to catch at a nearby building, triggering a more massive explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and a shock wave over the city.
“It was like a nuclear explosion,” said Walid Abdo, a 43-year-old school teacher in the neighborhood of Gemayzeh near Beirut.