Massive explosions shake Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, leaving at least 10 dead, hundred others injured

TWO explosions shook the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, with at least 10 people dead and dozens of others injured amid the widespread damage of properties with the numbers likely to rise.

Videos of the explosion shared by residents on Twitter showed smoke rising from the port district before an enormous blast ensued.

The video footage which initially appeared to be a big blaze was thrown backwards by the shock of the explosion.

The loud blasts in Beirut’s port area were felt across the city and beyond and some districts lost electricity.

The cause of the explosion was not yet known as the Lebanese Red Cross confirmed in a tweet that 30  more than 30 teams were responding to the scene of the blast with ambulances.

Lebanese media showed images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, while local televisions stations reported the blast originated inside an area where firecrackers were stored.

According to an AFP report, at the scene of the explosion, most shops in the Hamra commercial district had sustained damage, with entire shopfronts destroyed, windows shattered including cars which were wrecked.

It stated that injured people were walking in the street, while outside the Clemenceau Medical Centre, dozens of wounded people, some who were covered in blood were admitted to the centre including children.

The loud blasts in Beirut’s port area were felt across the city and beyond and some districts lost electricity.

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Online footage from a Lebanese newspaper office showed blown-out windows, scattered furniture and demolished interior panelling.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun summoned an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to a report by Aljazeera.

Farhan Haq, United Nations, spokesman said it was not immediately clear what the cause was, and that there was no indication of any injuries to any UN personnel.

“We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it’s an accidental or manmade act,” he said.

The explosions came at a time when Lebanon is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades, which has left nearly half of the population in poverty.

Lebanon’s economy has dropped in recent months, with the local currency plunging against the dollar, as businesses were shutting down enmass and poverty rising at the same rate as unemployment.
The explosions also come as Lebanon awaits the verdict on Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, killed in a huge truck bomb attack.

Four alleged members of the Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at the court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut suicide bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people.

Tensions have also been high with neighbouring Israel after Israel said it thwarted an infiltration attempt by up to five Hezbollah gunmen, a claim denied by the Iranian-backed group.

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