Report: More Than 70 People Dead In Beirut, Over 3,700 Injured In Explosion

Twitter/Screenshot/Zaiنab Hijazi

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A massive explosion Tuesday shook Lebanon’s capital Beirut near the city’s port, killing over 70 people and injuring thousands, and destroying surrounding buildings, numerous sources reported.

Videos showed a large mushroom cloud and then a plume of dark smoke after the explosion. There were two explosions near the port, which destroyed entire blocks of buildings and was reportedly felt as far as Cyprus. The government has launched an investigation, but leaders say the explosion was likely caused powered by highly explosive materials being stored in the port, according to NPR.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the warehouse at the port has been storing an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, according to NPR.

Diab said that the supply was left unsecured for 6 years, and he vows to punish the officials responsible.

It is unclear the exact number of people dead, but Beirut’s hospitals were full hours after the blast with a death toll that continued to grow throughout the day. Authorities are also urging residents to donate blood. The Lebanese Red Cross said it sent all available ambulances from multiple other parts of the country to Beirut to treat patients and help with evacuation.

The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, and urged them to steady indoors and wear masks, according to Reuters.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the initial blaze. The explosion happened days before the U.N. is expected to deliver a verdict in the trial of four Hezbollah suspects over the 2005 truck bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

An Israeli official said Israel “had nothing to do” with the blast, and said Israel was ready to give humanitarian aid to Lebanon. The U.S., Britain, and France also offered their aid, according to Reuters.  (RELATED: Obama CIA nominee hedged on Hezbollah terrorists in 2006: ‘You can’t divide the world into good and evil’)

This is a developing story and is being updated.