The blast occurred in the city’s port area, where there were warehouses housing explosives, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources said. A third security source said there were chemcials stored in the area.
Footage of the blast shared around by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast. Those who filming what initially appeared to be a big blaze where thrown backwards by the shock.
At least 10 bodies were taken to hospitals, a security source and a medical source told Reuters.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze that set off the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses. The governor of Beirut port told Sky News that a team of firefighters at the scene had “disappeared” after the explosion.
“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” said a Reuters witness.
The health minister told Reuters there was a “very high number” of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded.
Another Reuters witness said she saw heavy grey smoke near the port area and then heard an explosion and saw flames of fire and black smoke: “All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos.”
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters it was not immediately clear what the cause was, and that there was no indication of any injuries to any U.N. personnel.
“We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it’s accidental or manmade act,” he said.
The U.S. Pentagon said: “We are aware of the explosion and are concerned for the potential loss of life due to such a massive explosion.”
In Cyprus, an island lying west of Lebanon, residents reported two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.
Indian Embassy issues helpline number
Two big explosions heard in Central Beirut this evening. Everyone is advised to stay calm. Any Indian community member in need of any help, may contact our helpline: Embassy of India, Beirut
Israel not involved in Beirut blast, Israeli official says
Israel has nothing to do with a huge explosion at the Beirut port area on Tuesday, an Israeli official said. “Israel has nothing to do with the incident,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Israeli N12 television news that the explosion was most likely an accident caused by a fire.
Beirut blast area housed highly-explosive materials, says Lebanese internal security chief
Lebanon’s internal security chief Abbas Ibrahim said that a massive blast in Beirut‘s port area occurred in a section housing highly-explosive materials, and not explosive as had been reported earlier by the official state news agency NNA.
Speaking to reporters in televised remarks, he declined to speculate about the cause of the explosion in Lebanon’s capital, saying “we cannot preempt investigations”.
White House says US tracking explosion in Beirut closely
The Trump administration is closely tracking the deadly explosion in Beirut, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a news briefing on Tuesday, but she offered no details about the causes of the blast.
Witnesses and security sources in Beirut said the huge explosion near the center of Beirut killed at least 10 people and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital.
Lebanese Red cross chief says hundreds injured treated, many still trapped in area of blast
Hundreds of people who were injured in the Beirut port blast were taken to hospitals but many remain trapped in homes damaged by the explosion, the head of the Lebanese Red Cross said.
George Kettaneh told local media there was no exact figure of how many were injured as many were still trapped in homes and within the area of the blast. Others were being rescued by boat.
Lebanese broadcaster LBCI quoted Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut as saying that was treating more than 500 injuries and was not able to receive more. Tens of injured needed operations, the hospital said appealing for blood donations.
US State Dept says stands ready to offer assistance after Beirut blast
The US State Department is closely following reports of an explosion in Beirut and stands ready to offer ‘all possible assistance’, a spokesperson for the agency said, as a massive blast ripped through the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring hundreds.
The Department has no information about the cause of the explosion, the spokesperson said and added that the agency is working closely with local authorities to determine if any US citizens were affected in the incident.
In Video:On cam: Massive blast shakes Lebanon’s capital Beirut, several killed