- Lebanon’s health ministry said that at least 70 people had died and 3,700 suffered injuries in the explosions and fire that shook Beirut on Tuesday August 8, 2020.
- The secretary-general of the Kataeb political party, Nizar Najarian, was killed in the blast, and among those injured was Kamal Hayek, the chairman of the state-owned electricity company, who was in critical condition, the news agency reported.
- “I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” Prime Minister Hassan Diab said.
- The chemical compound, which is commercially available, is used widely in fertilizers and explosives.
- Diab said it was “unacceptable” that a shipment of ammonium nitrate estimated at 2,750 tons had been in warehouse for six years without “preventive measures” in place to protect it.
- The blast near Beirut’s port sent up a huge mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings.
- One eyewitness described the scenes as “like an apocalypse.”
- It was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away, and caused a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in the Lebanese capital.
- The blast was stunning even for a city that has seen civil war, suicide bombings and bombardment by Israel.
- “It was a real horror show. I haven’t seen anything like that since the days of the (civil) war,” said Marwan Ramadan, who was about 500 meters (yards) from the port and was knocked off his feet by the force of the explosion.
- “All the buildings around here have collapsed. I’m walking through glass and debris everywhere, in the dark,” one witness near the port told AFP news agency.
- There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA.
- Chaotic scenes filled Beirut’s hospitals Tuesday as doctors conducted triage on dozens of wounded people. Some had broken limbs, others had been showered with shards of glass.
- The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis: Beirut hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on.
- Outside the St. George University Hospital in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighborhood, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.
- The US embassy in Beirut warned residents in the capital about reports of toxic gases released by the explosion, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available.
- US President Donald Trump said the huge explosion that shook Beirut appeared to be a “terrible attack.”
- “We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack,” Trump told reporters at the White House.