Beirut: Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut on Wednesday, after a catastrophic explosion at the port caused damage to the entire neighbouring country, killing more than 100 people and wounding thousands of others, and Lebanon plunged into a deeper crisis.
The explosion appeared to be caused by a fire that ignited 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was not fixed in the warehouse and is believed to be about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest.
The scale of the destruction was so great that the Lebanese capital was like the scene of an earthquake. Thousands of people were left homeless and thousands of people were crowded into overwhelmed hospitals for treatment.
“We’ve had some dark days in Lebanon over the years but this is something else,” said Rami Rifai, a 38-year-old engineer, speaking to AFP from a hospital where his two daughters were receiving treatment after sustaining cuts despite being half a kilometre from the seat of the blast.
“We already had the economic crisis, a government of thieves and coronavirus. I didn’t think it could get worse but now I don’t know if this country can get up again. Everyone is going to try to leave. I will try to leave,” he said, his voice choked by tears.
In the area closest to the port, the damage caused by the prolonged civil war from 1975 to 1990 was realized in one second by an explosion that flattened buildings within a radius of several hundred meters.
A resident of Mar Mikhail (one of the worst-hit residential areas) said she saw the dead bodies scattered in the middle of the road, apparently thrown off the balcony and roof by the explosion.
After hearing an earlier and smaller explosion and a fire in the port, many people were watching and filming with their mobile phones.