A huge explosion shook Beirut, the capital of Lebanon on Tuesday, injuring hundreds of people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.
The massive explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital sent a mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping over cars and damaging buildings miles away.
According to the state-run National News Agency, an “uncountable” number of people were wounded by the explosion. Footage from the scene captured the blast and the injured staggering through streets. One eyewitness described the scene as “like an apocalypse.”
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Huge Beirut explosion from “high explosive material”
Conflicting reports pointed the cause of the explosion initially on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA. The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated “high explosive materials,” but no further information was provided.
After the explosion, a red cloud hung over the capital as firefighting teams rushed to try and put out the fire. At least 10 firefighters were missing according to the city’s governor Marwan Abboud, who said the scene reminded him of “Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
“In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale,” Abboud said. “This is a national catastrophe.”
Beirut’s hospitals were filled as doctors conducted triage on dozens of wounded people. Some people had broken limbs, others had shards of glass in their skin.
One of Beirut’s major hospitals, Hotel Dieu, received around 400 injured patients, an employee told CNN.
The explosion damaged buildings across the city including the official residence of Lebanon’s president, the headquarters of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and CNN’s bureau in downtown Beirut. According to some witnesses, homes as far as 10 kilometers away were damaged.
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Witnesses describe the massive Beirut explosion
One Beirut resident who was several kilometers away from the site of the blast said her windows had been shattered by the explosion. “What I felt was that it was an earthquake,” Rania Masri told CNN.Huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon injures hundreds
“The apartment shook horizontally and all of a sudden it felt like an explosion and the windows and doors burst open. The glass just broke. So many homes were damaged or destroyed.”
Bachar Ghattas, an eyewitness, described scenes of chaos in Beirut on Tuesday evening: “You can see injured people all over the streets in Beirut, glass all over the place, cars are damaged, it is like an apocalypse.”
“It is very, very frightening what is happening right now, and people are freaking out. The emergency services are overwhelmed,” Ghattas told CNN. “Beirut port is totally destroyed.”