Watch: Major explosion rocks Lebanon’s Capital Beirut UPDATED

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Update 2155h 

The Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan says more than 50 people have been killed and 2,700 are wounded in a massive explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. The explosion released a shockwave causing widespread damage to buildings and shattering windows in different parts of the city.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says the massive explosion in Beirut “was an accident caused by a fire. I suggest caution with speculation – I do not see any reason not to believe the reports from Beirut”. Meanwhile, British PM Boris Johnson said the UK is ready to provide any support it could to help Beirut.

“The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident. “The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”

Update 2120h

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that those responsible for an explosion at a “dangerous” warehouse in Beirut port area that rocked the capital would pay the price.

“I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability. … Those responsible will pay the price,” he said in a televised speech. “Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations”.

 

Update 2100h 

The Lebanese Health Minister Hassan Hamad says at least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 are wounded in a massive explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, Al Jazeera reports.

“It is a disaster in every sense of the word,” Hamad said in an interview with several television channels while visiting a hospital in the Lebanese capital.

Multiple explosions rocked downtown Beirut on Tuesday. This has been reported  by local media on the reports of several eyewitnesses.

According to AlArabiya that the impact of this explosion manifested themselves on buildings several kilometres away suffered material damage and the explosions were heard over 20 kilometres north of Beirut.

Some local TV stations reported that the blast was at Beirut’s port.

Video posted online showed a large mushroom cloud and extensive damage.

Reports say the explosion was in the port area of the city, with unconfirmed reports of a second blast. The authorities fear many casualties.

A UN tribunal is due to issue its verdict in the trial of four suspects in the murder by car bomb of Hariri.

All four are members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which has consistently denied any role in Hariri’s death. The verdict is due on Friday.

The possible second explosion was reported to be at the Hariri residence in the city.

Reuters quotes Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources saying thar the blast had occurred in the port area where there are warehouses housing explosives. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses. 

“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.

Local broadcaster LBC quoted the health minister as saying there was a “very high number” of injures and a large amount of damage. Al Mayadeen television said hundreds were wounded.

This is a developing story.

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