A massive explosion in Lebanon’s capital Beirut left 78 people dead and almost 4,000 injured. The impact of blast flattened much of the port, overturned vehicles, and sent a shockwave that shattered windows and damaged buildings across the city.
The Philippine Charge d’ Affaires to Lebanon Ajeet Panemanglor confirmed that two Filipinos were killed and eight were injured in the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut.
Panemanglor added that 11 Filipinos remain missing after the blast that registered as a 3.5 magnitude earthquake in the capital, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ.
As emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead, the country’s officials expect the death toll to rise further.
Beirut hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on. Dozens of ambulances ferried the injured from the port area, where the wounded lay on the ground. One medic said 200 to 300 people had been admitted to a single emergency department.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, which he said was “unacceptable.”
An orange-colored cloud was seen over the site after the explosion. Orange clouds of toxic nitrogen dioxide gas often accompany an explosion involving nitrates.
Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the incident might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port.
“This scene reminds us of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I haven’t seen massive destruction in my life on this scale. This is a disaster, a catastrophe, nothing but a national catastrophe. We don’t know how we’re going to deal with this situation at a time when we can’t even walk outside our homes,” said Ibrahim.