Close to 50 people were killed and over 2,700 injured in two explosions that rocked Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday afternoon. The exact reason for the blast, which took place in the port area, is still unclear. Government sources said that the blasts was caused by “huge quantities of ammonium nitrate” which was stored in a warehouse in the area.
The blasts devastated many buildings in the vicinity and even those further way and its impact was felt as far as Cyprus. The city’s airport, which is about 10 km away, was among the buildings which suffered extensive damage. Reports say that hospitals in the area have been flooded with the injured, with many running out of space to treat patients. Journalists on the ground reported that a few hospitals have also been severely damaged.
Scenes of panic and chaos inside theis Beirut hospital as relatives are desperately searching for loved ones begging hospital staff for names and if they’ve heard of their relatives. Wounded are being treated in hospital hallways, blood all over the floors, staff are overwhelmed. pic.twitter.com/hE5KGNuFxO
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) August 4, 2020
Prime minister Hasan Diab announced a day of mourning on Wednesday. He also claimed those responsible would be punished. The aftermath of the blasts, however, saw a surge of anger against the government and the establishment. Lebanon has been witnessing massive protests since late last year. The protests, which were demanding systemic change, forced the resignation of former prime minister Saad Hariri. The new government under Diab too has been unable to address much of the protesters’ concerns with fresh waves of protests resuming once the COVID-19 situation stabilized. Meanwhile, Lebanon has also been going through a severe economic crisis. The unemployment rate is at 35% the country faces a huge debt crisis. Lebanon’s public debt is at 170% of its GDP.