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  • A view of the damage at the Beirut Port

    A view of the damage at the Beirut Port | Photo: EFE/EPA/Wael hamzeh

Published 4 August 2020
Opinion

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab confirmed that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored unsafely in a warehouse.

A colossal explosion Tuesday ravaged Beirut's port area causing several casualties and widespread damage to surrounding buildings.

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As of this hour,  there have been at least 78 fatalities reported and 4000 people injured, according to the information given to Reuters by Lebanon's Health Minister Hamad Hasan. 

The shock wave blew out windows and false ceilings, as a giant mushroom cloud lifted up above the capital.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan said that "a large number of wounded are arriving in bad condition to hospitals as a result of the explosion," as hospitals are calling for blood donations.

President Michel Aoun called the Supreme Defense Council for an emergency meeting, and Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced a three-day mourning period to honor the victims starting on Wednesday. The president also said that the government would release 100 billion lira (£50.5m; $66m) of emergency funds to tackle the damages.

According to the local outlet NNA, the explosion happened in Beirut's port area, after a fire had broken out in a zone full of warehouses housing explosives.

On the other hand, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab confirmed that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored unsafely. At the same time, officials estimate that the explosive materials had been stored in a warehouse for six years.

As this information emerged, president Aoun tweeted it was "unacceptable" that such amount of ammonium nitrate was stored unsafely.

The incident occurs amidst rising tension between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon's southern border. However, it has not been confirmed whether the fire was intentional or accidental.

Also, the country is struggling with an unprecedented financial crisis that threatens to leave the national currency practically valueless.

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