The port of Beirut and its surrounding suburbs were rocked on Tuesday by the massive explosion, that left at least 135 people dead and nearly 4,000 injured. The death toll is constantly increasing, many people are missing and the hospitals are overcrowded. The blast was the largest in the history of Lebanon. More than 300,000 people have been left homeless with the damage estimated to cost over $3 billion.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at a port warehouse without safety measures, “endangering the safety of citizens,” according to a statement. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has promised a transparent investigation and declared three days of mourning.
We asked the current situation to the Lebanese experts.
Ahmad Malli, Director of the Center for Legal and Political Studies Lebanese University:
The semi-official version is the explosion was caused by explosive materials, weighed in tons and confiscated for years, and stored in the port. The massive explosion rocked Beirut, with the force of an earthquake followed by a shock wave that devastated much of the city and is believed to cause an unspecified number of victims and hundreds of casualties so far…
Beirut’s governor Marwan Aboud called it a “national catastrophe” and the prime minister declared a day of mourning.
In my opinion, the Lebanese people known for their vitality will overcome this catastrophe through national solidarity and via the immediate support of their Arab and Muslim brothers and friendly countries.
Muhammed Mawas, Coordinator in the Leadership Council of the Arab National Youth:
What happened last night was not witnessed by Beirut in its history throughout the civil war, and it was destroyed in minutes that 15 years of conflict could not destroy. The scene is similar to Hiroshima and Nakasaki, destroyed buildings, vital facilities, and stricken streets within 8 km.
The exact reasons are not known yet, and we are awaiting investigations, but what is certain is that an explosion occurred in the place of storing chemicals that should have been destroyed long ago, and we still do not know if there was a security event or just negligence.
Some have rushed to exploit the event politically and this is what we totally reject at this time. It is a time of human solidarity, who fell dead, wounded, lost, and were not found belonging to all groups, religions, and political tendencies.
We are now calling on everyone to work to eliminate the damage caused by the disaster and to work for the aid of the wounded. And work to secure medical supplies, food and infrastructure that was destroyed.
We invite all friends and comrades to contribute to support the afflicted city “Beirut”. It is time for action .. Beirut has been devastated by earthquakes 7 times throughout history and has risen from its ashes. This time, it will also happen…