Thousands were displaced from their homes and the death toll is believed to increase.
The events of 4 August 2020 shocked the citizens of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The city turned into a site of massive destruction after an explosion rocked the city at 6:07 p.m. local time. The intensity of the incident that occurred near Beirut port left nothing untouched. Buildings tumbled down, cars flipped, streets including the long stretches of the famed seaside promenade turned into piles of rubbles within seconds.
According to the New York Times, the catastrophic event was so strong that it was felt more than 150 miles away in Cyprus. "Houses, buildings, dead bodies in the streets, injuries," stated CBS News producer Sami Aouad.
Countries have dispatched emergency medical aid, field hospitals, rescue experts and tracking dogs to Lebanon as the world reacts swiftly to the vast explosion in Beiruthttps://t.co/3StEOWBOan pic.twitter.com/vdEYBC7Fba— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 6, 2020
According to CNN, Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated the incident was caused due to the 2,750 metric tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that was stored without preventive measures at the port warehouse.
I pray for Lebanon.— Atif Lone (عاطف) (@atiflone0786) August 6, 2020
Beirut is bleeding, and innocent people are dying. My deep condolences to the people who have lost their families and the parents who lost their children in the catastrophic explosion that took place yesterday.
2020 didn't stop yet.🚫#Rip💔 pic.twitter.com/4ij1Y26JIH
The officials stated that at least 137 people lost their lives and about 5000 are injured. More than 300,000 people are believed to have been displaced. “What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe. There are victims and casualties everywhere," stated the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettani, according to the New York Times. At least one American and one Australian and two Filipinos were killed according to the officials of these countries.
This video captures the moment a bride in Beirut was posing for a wedding photograph just seconds before a deadly blast went off.— SkyNews (@SkyNews) August 6, 2020
Get the latest on the explosion here: https://t.co/CtOwyJvgJB pic.twitter.com/I0seUfXup7
However, the death toll is expected to increase since many are missing and search is ongoing. Security forces have sealed off large areas surrounding the blast site. Rescuers are continuing their efforts to recover as many bodies and survivors as possible from under the rubble. Meanwhile, boats were sent out to search off coast. However, the lack of electricity disrupted the search at night.
While the efforts to retrieve victims continue, the Public Health Minister Hamad Hassan claimed that the capital was facing a shortage of beds and equipment to treat the patients in critical conditions. Hospitals couldn't accept more injuries and bodies because they were full. "Beirut is a destroyed city. It is like a real war zone," said CBS News producer Sami Aouad.
As per the BBC, three hospitals in the city were shut down due to damages and only two are partially operational. The Saint Georges hospital located near the explosion site suffered severe damages and were forced to treat patients in the streets.
Pamela Makhoul, a nurse at the facility confirmed that all patients were sent to other hospitals after they were given basic care. "The situation is a disaster. There's nothing left," said the nurse, according to CBS News. The nurse also confirmed that many of their staff and patients were killed in the blast.
Meanwhile, Salah Zeineldine, a doctor from pulmonary and critical care at the American University of Beirut Medical Center stated that their hospital was functioning despite the damages from the accident.
However, the doctor stated that the situation was one of a kind. "Yesterday was not like any other day. There was an element of chaos, even though we often have drills and simulations to respond to crises on time. I've dealt with lots of catastrophes, tragedies, big assassinations, and blasts with multiple casualties, but nothing even coming close to yesterday," said Zeineldine, according to CBS News.
He added, "We fear that what was functioning yesterday won't function tomorrow. Last night's tragedy was one of the worse known to mankind, excluding wars," according to CBS News.
Following the crisis, countries have stepped in to help the Lebanese people through these devastating times. The European Union is sending 100 firefighters with vehicles, dogs, and equipment. Russia is also supplying the country with the necessary aid.
Meanwhile, port officials have been placed under house arrests as the investigation progressed. Moreover, Customs chief Badri Daher stated that his agency had instructed the removal of the explosives from the site several times. However, it was not followed.