‘Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street’
Update: Death toll currently estimated at 78 people.
A huge explosion near the centre of Beirut killed at least 25 people, injured hundreds and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, shattering windows and causing apartment balconies to collapse.
Lebanon’s health minister said more than 2,500 had been injured in the blast at the Beirut port area.
The most powerful explosion to hit Beirut in years shook the ground, leaving some residents thinking an earthquake had struck. Dazed and weeping, some of them wounded, people walked through streets checking to see if relatives were hurt.
Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored there had blown up. Lebanon-based broadcaster Mayadeen cited the country’s customs director saying tonnes of nitrate exploded.
Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media initially showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast that sent a ball of white smoke and fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings in other areas of the city were thrown backwards by the shock.
Aftermath close up (WFAA channel) – WARNING