RESCUE workers in Lebanon are searching for survivors, as they dig through wrecked buildings on Wednesday, after a warehouse explosion in Beirut claimed at least 100 lives, with over 4,000 people injured.
The death toll grew to over 100 and with an unknown number still missing as officials expect the number of casualties to rise.
George Kettani, head of Lebanon’s Red Cross revealed that rescue workers were combing the site of the explosion after confirming that at least 100 people died from the blast.
“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe, there are victims and casualties everywhere. We are still sweeping the area there could still be victims but I hope not,” he said.
Kettani said the Red Cross was coordinating with the Health Ministry to set up morgues because hospitals were overwhelmed.
The force of the blast threw victims into the sea and rescue teams were trying to recover bodies. Several people killed by the blast were port and custom employees and people working in the area or driving through during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour.
More than 4,000 people were injured, overwhelming the city’s hospitals.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said about 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures
Describing the failure to deal with the ammonium nitrate as “unacceptable” and vowed the “harshest punishment” for those responsible.
However, an investigation has been launched, and the committee was directed to refer its findings to the judiciary within five days.
The blast is described as the most powerful ever in Beirut, a city under the throes of civil war and yet to make a comeback from an economic meltdown including a rise in coronavirus infections
Haman Hamad, Lebanon’s health minister said there was an anticipated increase in the death till as enquiries about missing people have increased in 24 hours.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.