Frantic search for survivors of deadly explosion in Beirut

Frantic search for survivors of deadly explosion in Beirut
The explosion shook Beirut. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Rescue workers in Lebanon’s capital Beirut are searching for more than a hundred people who are missing after a huge explosion devastated the port area of the capital on Tuesday.

The explosion killed at least 100 people and injured more than 4,000 others.

The explosion shook the whole city and a mushroom cloud could be seen spreading over the port area.

President of Lebanon Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse.

Ammonium nitrate is used as an explosive and a fertiliser in agriculture.

He Chaired an urgent cabinet meeting for Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

Lebanon will observe an official period of mourning for three days from Wednesday.

What happened?

The explosion occurred just after 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Tuesday after a fire at the port in Beirut.

Hadi Nasrallah, an eyewitness, told that he saw the fire but did not expect the blast.

“I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building.”

The destruction is widespread. Source: Reuters

The blast was so massive that it was also felt 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, people there said they thought it was an earthquake.

In the aftermath of the blast, there were chaos as ambulances with their sirens wailing inched their way through heavy traffic to get to the scene.

There were shards of glass on the highway, that needed to be cleared by tractors.

Local media showed people trapped beneath rubble and video footage showed blast-damaged buildings and wrecked cars. Hospitals were reported to be overwhelmed.

George Kettani, the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, described it as a “huge catastrophe”, adding: “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

His organisation said that a rescue and search operation was still under way to locate the more than 100 people missing.

Firass Abiad, the head of Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, told that there had been “extremely chaotic” scenes in the aftermath of the blast.

He said: “We had tens of casualties arriving at the emergency room at the same time and initially they were mainly people who had injuries from glass.”

“We are hoping to find survivors although the hope is getting dimmer by the minute.”

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