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Lebanon in mourning after Beirut deadly explosion

Lebanon in mourning after Beirut deadly explosion ●Hospitals struggle to cope with thousands of wounded after huge blast ripped through the...

Lebanon in mourning after Beirut deadly explosion

●Hospitals struggle to cope with thousands of wounded after huge blast ripped through the capital’s port

By Michael Safi and Ben Doherty

August 5, 2020 | EASTERN PILOT 

Lebanon is in mourning and surveying the damage to its capital Beirut after a massive explosion ripped through the city’s port and surrounding areas on Tuesday, killing at least 100 people and injuring 4,000 with many still feared to be trapped under rubble.

In a country already reeling from an economic crisis, the full scale of the calamity became apparent as the city woke on Wednesday morning, with rescue teams searching through the debris of ruined neighbourhoods for the missing, and hospitals buckling under the weight of thousands of casualties.

A Lebanese Red Cross official said on Wednesday morning the death toll had reached at least 100, with smoke still rising from the port and downtown streets littered with upturned cars and the ruins of shattered buildings.

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettaneh told a local broadcaster. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

Soldiers were at the site clearing rubble and helicopters were passing over dropping water to put out the smouldering remains.

Hospitals were still overrun with wounded people and others searching for loved ones, with pages springing up online listing pictures of the missing and begging for information of their whereabouts.

Beirut governor Marwan Abboud told a local radio station that more than 100 people remain missing, including several firefighters. “Beirut has never gone through what it went through yesterday,” he said.

 Beirut explosion: scores dead and thousands hurt as blast rips through city – video report

A two-week state of emergency has been recommended by the president, after authorities blamed a huge store of the highly reactive chemical ammonium nitrate for the explosion that sent a shockwave across the city, shattering windows, collapsing roofs and rendering homes uninhabitable.

The blast, at 6:08pm local time on Tuesday, was so powerful it was felt in Cyprus, 120 miles away.

It left cars with blown out windows strewn on highways and a city in shock. Footage posted on social media showed whole neighbourhoods in ruins.

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