Rescue workers are searching for more than a hundred people who are missing from the explosion in the port area of the capital Beirut on Tuesday.
According to reports, the blast killed at least 100 people and injured over 4,000 others. The whole city was shaken up by the mushroom cloud that spread over the port area.
President Michel Aoun said the explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse. Ammonium nitrate is used as a fertilizer in agriculture and also as an explosive. Also Read– Huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon injures hundreds
President Aoun declared three days of mourning which started on Wednesday. Opening an emergency cabinet meeting, he said: “No words can describe the horror that has hit Beirut last night, turning it into a disaster-stricken city”.
“Amid last night’s smoke, flames and destruction, I would like to laud the zeal of the Lebanese who rushed to the blast location and perimeter and the hospitals to offer support and assistance,” he added.
Chaos and Destruction in Beirut
The blast occurred just after 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Tuesday after a fire at the port.
Eyewitness Hadi Nasrallah says that he saw the fire but did not expect the blast. “I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building,” he told the BBC.
The blast was felt over 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, with people saying they felt like it was an earthquake.
Local media showed people trapped beneath rubble and video footage showed wrecked cars and blast-damaged buildings. Hospitals were said to be overwhelmed.
The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettani, described it as a “huge catastrophe”, adding: “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”