100 dead, 4,000 injured in Beirut port ammonium nitrate blast


MORE than 100 were killed and 4,000 injured when a cache of ammonium nitrate in a Port of Beirut exploded, showering broken glasd city-wide over 750,000 residents yesterday.

A fire a billowing smoke rose from buildings in port area followed by a huge blast with a mushroom cloud rising into the air, reported Doha-based Aljazeera, adding that the blast was heard in Cyprus, 240 kilometres away.

Vessel tracking services show 10 ships near the blast, including the 11,356-TEU CMA CGM Lyra. Three more vessels are shown in the vicinity, reported Colchester's Seatrade Maritime News.

According to Dryad Global the general cargo vessel Raouf H was the closest commercial vessel to the explosion with the Sierra Leone flagged general cargo vessel Metro Star located behind.

They also reported that three tugs are believed to have been in close proximity to the explosion. The condition of vessels in the vicninty following the blast is unknown at present.

CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk all have offices close to the port area and Seatrade Maritime News has reached out to these companies.

People were trapped beneath rubble. A witness described the first explosion as deafening, and video footage showed wrecked cars and blast-damaged buildings.

"All the buildings around here have collapsed. I'm walking through glass and debris everywhere, in the dark," a woman near the port told Agence France-Press.

The explosion released shockwaves through the city, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky.

Hours after the blast, ambulances continued to carry away the wounded as army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.

Videos posted online showed wounded people bleeding amid the dust and rubble, and damage where flying debris had punched holes in walls and furniture. On social media, people reported damage to homes and cars far from the port.

"I saw the fire, but I didn't yet know there was going to be an explosion," a bystander told the BBC. "We went inside. Suddenly I lost my hearing because apparently I was too close. I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong.

"And then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building," she said.

All over Beirut, people were calling each other from different areas kilometres away and they were experiencing the same thing: broken glass, buildings shaking, a loud explosion.

Source: Schendet

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