On the evening of August 4th, a massive explosion rocked the port of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, causing devastating damage and leaving thousands of casualties. The explosion sent a shockwave across the city and blew out windows up to 10 kilometers away. It was felt as far away as Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.
As of the morning of August 5th, the number of reported fatalities exceeded 100, with at least 4,000 people reported injured. At least 48 staff members of the United Nations and 27 members of their families were among the injured. 10 rescuers involved in the operation to contain the damage and to help people have been reported killed.
Initial reports suggested that the explosion may have been caused by an incident in the firework storage area. However, later, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is typically used as an agricultural fertilizer, had been stored for six years at a port warehouse without proper safety measures, “endangering the safety of citizens.”
This statement was backed by General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, who said a “highly explosive material” had been confiscated years earlier and stored in the warehouse, just minutes’ walk from Beirut’s shopping and nightlife districts.
It is still unclear what caused the explosion itself thus laying the ground for various speculations in mainstream media outlets and on social media platforms. In particular, reports suggested that a number of Hezbollah members were in the port area at the moment of the explosion. This immediately caused reports that this may have been a result of some Israeli attack, for example sabotage actions or a somehow unnoticed missile strike, and that the site of the explosion was in fact a part of the Hezbollah military infrastructure.
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