Breaking: Dozens Feared Dead as Explosion Rips Through Lebanese Capital

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..Sky News Beirut Office Destroyed in Blast

SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 4 – Dozens of people are feared dead and hundreds have been wounded in a powerful explosion that ripped through Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.

Sky News said its offices were about 400m from the blast site in downtown Beirut. They were totally destroyed by the huge explosion.

The massive explosion on Tuesday at Beirut’s port sent shockwaves across the city, causing widespread damage to buildings and shattering windows in different parts of the capital.

The exact cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Mohammed Fahmi, Lebanon’s interior minister, said it appeared to have been caused by ammonium nitrate that was stored in a warehouse at the port.

Hamad Hassan, Lebanon’s health minister, said hundreds were wounded in the explosion. Security sources put the initial death toll at 10 but medical and rescue teams on the ground said dozens were killed.

“The explosion was felt across the city. There is chaos in the streets.” – Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said.

Helicopters circling the port area were trying to extinguish a large fire. 

At Hotel-Dieu hospital, dozens of people trying to enter were being turned away.

After a man was pronounced dead, a young woman told an infant child, “Youssef, dad is in heaven.” One man collapsed on the hospital floor and smacked it, while another man said “it’s a catastrophe”.

A viral video of the explosion taken by Al Jazeera shows a large column of smoke billowing from an area of the port that houses large warehouses before a large orange explosion is seen and huge dome-shaped blast wave shoots into the air. 

Glass storefronts and windowpanes across the city were shattered in the explosion, while videos and pictures shared on social media showed doors ripped from their hinges and ceilings filled with gaping holes.

A civil defence worker who has worked in the sector for 20 years was in disbelief at the scale of the damage.

“I’ve seen the assassinations and the explosions but this is something else. There is something wrong here,” the worker said.

The explosion in Beirut port comes as the country faces an unprecedented financial crisis and a surging coronavirus outbreak.

Located in the heart of capital, the port is a vital piece of infrastructure used to get scarce goods in the country.

Damaged in the explosion were silos containing wheat that burned for several hours.

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