The people of Lebanon are in mourning and exploring the damage to their national capital, after a huge explosion tore through the city’s port and surrounding areas on Tuesday.
The country’s prime minister and health minister emerged from an emergency cabinet meeting late into the night to announce that the two major blasts were caused by some 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse within Beirut’s port area.
The full scale of the disaster became apparent as Beirut woke on Wednesday morning, with news that over eighty people were already dead and another 4,000 injured. Many more are feared to be trapped under rubble.
Bemused residents watched as rescue teams searched through the debris of ruined neighbourhoods for the missing, and hospitals overwhelmed under the weight of thousands of casualties.
A Lebanese Red Cross official said on Wednesday morning the death toll could rise to at least 100, with smoke still rising from the port and downtown streets littered with upturned vehicles and the ruins of shattered buildings.