#Lebanon; #MassiveBeirutExplosion; #AtLeast100Killed; #ThousandsWonded
Lebanon, Aug 5 (Canadian-Media): A massive explosion at the port sent shock waves across the Lebanese capital, killing at least 100 people and wounding thousands, which could rise further, George Kettaneh, an official with the Lebanese Red Cross said, media reports said.
Beirut Explosion. Image credit: Wikipedia
Scores of people were missing and an Instagram page called "Locating Victims Beirut" was created with photos of missing people, and radio presenters read the names of missing or wounded people throughout the night.
It was unclear what caused the blast, which appeared to have been triggered by a fire and struck with the force of an earthquake. There is no evidence the Beirut explosion was an attack.
It appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock after it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014, Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station.
It was the most powerful explosion and one of the local newspapers described it as "The Great Collapse."
Already being on the brink of collapse amid a severe economic crisis with its hospitals confronting a surge in coronavirus cases.
Security forces cordoned off the port area on Wednesday as a bulldozer entered to help clear away debris.
Numerous apartment buildings were destroyed by the blast, potentially leaving large numbers of people homeless at a time when many Lebanese were financial crisis.
The government of Lebanon was also concerned how it will continue to import nearly all of its vital goods with its main port devastated.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in a short televised speech, appealed to all countries and friends of Lebanon to extend help to the small nation, saying: "We are witnessing a real catastrophe."
There is also the issue of food security in Lebanon, with 80 percent of Lebanon's wheat supply is imported, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department with estimated 85 percent of the country's grain having been contaminated.
Rooted in decades of systemic corruption and poor governance since the end of the civil war, Lebanese have held mass protests calling for sweeping political change since last autumn but due to the economic situation having steadily worsened, few of their demands have been met.
The explosion came three days before a UN-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing that killed former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.
It was on the same waterfront, that Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb, about two kilometres from the port.
Canada stands ready to assist Lebanon in the aftermath of an explosion in Beirut earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
"Absolutely tragic news coming out of Beirut. Canadians are thinking of everyone who has been injured and all those who are trying to locate a friend or family member or have lost a loved one. We’re keeping you in our thoughts and we stand ready to assist in any way we can," Trudeau said via Twitter on Aug 4.