At least 100 people have officially been reported to have died in the massive explosion that rocked Beirut yesterday, with that number expected to rise significantly higher, as thousands have been left injured and far more have been left homeless.
“The Governor of Beirut has said that 300,000 people have been left homeless after an enormous explosion tore across the city, killing at least a hundred people and wounding thousands,” The Telegraph reported. “Marwan Abboud added that around half of the city had been damaged by the explosion, amid warnings that the death toll was likely to raise far beyond 100, with many victims still trapped under rubble. … At least 4,000 people were wounded, overwhelming hospitals.”
Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said that blast was likely triggered by nearly 6 million pounds of ammonium nitrate, a chemical that is commonly used in fertilizer and bombs made by terrorists.
“Dozens of nearby buildings collapsed or were severely damaged, imagery from the aftermath showed,” The New York Times reported. “The second of the two blasts could be heard in Cyprus, more than 100 miles away. Broken glass and debris could be seen two miles away, encompassing an area where more than 750,000 people live.”
“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettani, said. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
“There are many people missing until now. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity,” Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hasan said to reporters. “We need everything to hospitalize the victims, and there is an acute shortage of everything.”
Numerous disturbing videos quickly emerged online that showed the blast and the extent of the damage that it caused.
Top U.S. officials expressed their condolences for the victims of the explosion.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4. We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy.”
During a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump addressed the explosion, saying: “Let me begin by sending America’s deepest sympathies to the people of Lebanon, where reports indicate that many, many people were killed, hundreds more were very badly wounded in a large explosion in Beirut. Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon. I have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon, and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.”
U.S. officials later pushed back on the suggestion that it was an attack, noting that there had been no indication it was and that such would trigger an automatic response from the U.S.