Beirut: As many as 100 people were killed and nearly 4,000 injured in two huge explosions that rocked downtown Beirut, the Lebanese Red Cross said on Wednesday.
The blasts took place on Tuesday evening (around 6.10 p.m. local time), shaking buildings all over the city while also causing severe damage and casualties, Xinhua reported.
President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures. He said that was “unacceptable”.
Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. A security source and media said it was caused by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse.
“It’s like a war zone. I’m speechless,” Beirut’s Mayor Jamal Itani told the media while inspecting the damage on Wednesday that he estimated would lead to losses in the billions of dollars.
“This is a catastrophe for Beirut and Lebanon.”
Many countries in the region expressed solidarity and sympathy with Lebanon over the explosions that have dealt a further blow to the country already plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic crisis.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran is ready to offer help to Lebanon after the huge blasts caused massive casualties and damage in Beirut.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon,” Zarif tweeted.
“As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary,” he said.
“Stay strong, Lebanon,” he added.
Turkey on Tuesday expressed sorrow over the huge number of casualties and damage caused by the explosions.
Two Turkish citizens sustained minor injuries in the blasts, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi extended his condolences to Lebanon over the deadly explosions and loss of life.
“My sincere condolences and sympathy go to the government and people of Lebanon, over the tragic explosions that happened today in the Lebanese capital Beirut,” Sisi wrote on his official Facebook page.
Sisi wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the blasts while extending condolences to the families of the killed.
Palestine has also expressed solidarity with Lebanon following the massive explosions in Beirut.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his country is ready to provide any support it could to Lebanon to help it recover from the tragedy while sending his condolences to the families of the victims.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said in a press statement that Palestine is “ready to put all its capabilities” in the service of Lebanon and provide any needed assistance immediately.