The explosion which rocked the capital of Lebanon ( Beirut ) was believed to be caused by an accidental ignition of 2,400 tons of explosive chemicals which had been left without much care since 2014.
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.
Videos from various witnesses showed what would probably be the most devastating destruction of both lives and properties of the scale of apocalyptic movies, building, cars and people were seen thrown in different direction as windows and doors shattered.
The Lebanese Red Cross said that every available ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon was being dispatched to Beirut to help patients.
Hospitals were so overwhelmed that they were turning wounded people away, including the American University Hospital. Patients were transported to hospitals outside Beirut because those in the city were at capacity.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning, the National News Agency reported. The Lebanese presidency said on Twitter that President Michel Aoun had instructed the military to aid in the response, and called an emergency meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, which declared Beirut a disaster area.
The minister of health however said his ministry will cover the cost of treating the injured. He said the cost will cover both for the hospitals that aren’t in liaison with the ministry.
The particular chemical which ignited and caused the massive explosion have been recognized as Ammonium Nitrate, it is said that a huge cache of it which was left unattended at the base of the building where a welder was supposedly working at, and had accidentally ignited causing the catastrophic devastation that rocked the city core.
In a televised statement, an official of the Lebanese Higher Defense Council quoted Prime Minister Diab as saying: “I will not relax until we find the responsible party for what happened, hold it accountable and apply the most serious punishments against it because it isn’t acceptable that a shipment of ammonium nitrate — estimated to be 2,750 tons — was in a depot for the past six years without precautionary measures being taken.”
Hours earlier, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon’s general security service, had said that “highly explosive materials” were stored at the site, which Mr. Aoun then confirmed. At first, neither of them said what those materials were, but General Ibrahim warned against getting “ahead of the investigation” and speculating about a terrorist act.
American military leaders “seem to think it was an attack,” President Trump told reporters at the White House, which was at odds with what Lebanese officials said. “It was a bomb of some kind.”
More information is still reaching us about the development of the situation and the rescue attempt by the Red Cross and other rescue teams working tirelessly to save lives and rescue people who might be trapped under collapsed buildings.