A massive explosion in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, killed 78 people and wounded more than 4,000, according to the Lebanese health minister.
More deceased may increase if debris is disposed of.
Two explosions struck the city in the port of Beirut on Tuesday evening.
Officials and firefighters said they were fighting the flames at the explosion.
Prime Minister Hassan Diabrebanon said more than 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in the Beirut warehouse, an explosion site.
He said the chemicals would be left unsafe for six years in a warehouse, punishing responsible people.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared a disaster area in Beirut and announced an emergency for two weeks.
Aoun said the military has the power to maintain security, according to his office tweets.
The US embassy in Beirut has issued a warning that Americans can “stay indoors and wear masks, because there are reports of toxic gases released during an explosion.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the explosion recorded a size of 3.3.
The explosion was heard 25 miles south of the city, and many streets in Beirut are covered with clear glass.
According to the Associated Press, the explosion caused the car to overturn, the building to be damaged, and the victim buried.
The cause of the explosion is not known, Abbas Ibrahim said, but the Lebanese Security Commissioner says the explosives stored in the port could be seized.
Ghada Alsharit, a reporter for Lebanon’s most famous news media Daily Star, posted a video showing serious damage inside the office building.
The Lebanese Red Cross has dispatched 30 teams to the scene and is urgently calling for blood donation.
Another eyewitness said that several fires occurred and the windows in the apartment building were broken.
Beirut’s hospital keeps the wounded injured, and some are driving to Tripoli, 50 miles north, for treatment.
White House strategic communication talks Alyssa Farah told Twitter that Trump was briefed on the explosion.
“I pray for the safety of the Lebanese,” he tweeted. “The president was briefed. We are constantly monitoring the situation.”
In a statement, a US State Department spokesman said the United States “has no information about the explosion.”
The spokesman added that the State Department is working with local authorities to see if it is affected.
The head of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettana, has told Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International that there are over 4,000 people injured, some in a serious condition, and that the number of fatalities may reach 100. Some victims are still under rubble, Kettana said.
This has not been confirmed by officials.
Dr David Caldicott, emergency consultant and senior clinical lecturer in medicine at the Australian National University, has provided the following analysis on the scale of the explosion.
Ammonium nitrate is an important fertiliser, but also a key component in improvised explosives around the world. The Oklahoma bombing in 1995 involved 3-4 tonnes of the material, and it has been alleged that as much as 2,600 tonnes has been involved in Beirut’s case. Following the Oklahoma bombing, federal restrictions in the US were introduced. Our research group computer modelled the possible effects of merely a 5 tonne ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO) device on the Adelaide CBD in the mid-‘00s, and the results were several 100 dead and 1000s injured. Shortly after, more stringent accounting of an agent the clearly still has utility in agriculture was introduced in Australia.
This explosion can be considered as a ‘high order’ explosion, with an obvious blast wave seen to be propagated from a massive secondary explosion, that followed on from the event. This has significant implications for the number and types of casualties that might be expected.