A HUGE explosion has killed at least 100 people and left more than 4,000 injured after the blast devastated parts of Lebanon's capital Beirut.
Pictures show buildings destroyed, people walking wounded, and a sea of wreckage after the blast that could be heard some 125 miles away in Cyprus.
It has been reported that the blast – which produced a mushroom cloud – was a fifth the size of Hiroshima, the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city during World War 2.
Lebanon's state news agency NNA and two security sources said the blast had occurred in the port area where there are warehouses housing explosives, reports Reuters.
Nearby buildings around the port have been levelled, windows and doors have been blown out, and fires burn as smoke plumes billow across Beirut.
The Government Palace – the home of Lebanon's PM Hassan Diab – was damaged in the blast, and his wife and daughter were injured in the explosion.
Mr Diab said: "What happened is a major national catastrophe and the scenes we see tell about the scale of the disaster that struck Lebanon and Beirut."
Security sources have revealed that 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the warehouse are to blame for the blast, while a welder is claimed to have sparked the fire that led to the explosion.
Follow for the latest news and updates on Beirut…
'250,000 LEFT HOMELESS' BY BLAST
Up to 250,000 people have been left homeless by the devastating explosion which caused around £4bn of damage, claim local reports.
Beirut governor Marwan Abboud told news crews government agencies are now working to provide shelter, food and water for those affected.
DANGER FEARS DURING RESCUE EFFORTS
Rescue workers are continuing to search through rubble at Beirut's devastated port, according to civil defence director general Raymond Khattar.
There is concern that the damaged structures are unstable and at risk of collapsing, MTV news reported.
So far, six bodies have been recovered from inside the port and three from the sea but many more remain missing.
Sources told MTV that members of the army, intelligence, and Beirut fire brigade were present at the scene when the explosion happened.
INTERNATIONAL AID EFFORT
International aid in the form of emergency workers and medical personnel is now heading to Lebanon.
France says it is sending two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tonnes of aid.
Emmanuel Macron's office says the aid should allow for the treatment of some 500 victims.
French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon, a former French protectorate, have been helping since the explosions, they added.
Jordan says a military field hospital including all necessary personnel will be dispatched and Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek says Lebanon has accepted an offer to send a team of 37 rescuers with sniffer dogs to Beirut.
Denmark says it is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, and Greece says it is ready to help Lebanese authorities with all means at its disposal.
AIRPORT DAMAGED IN DEADLY BLAST
Beirut's main airport – which is six miles away from the port – has reportedly been damaged by the explosion.
The news came as Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed those responsible will 'pay the price' and plunged the country into a two-week state of emergency.
Security sources this morning claimed a welder had sparked the initial fire that in turn ignited the chemicals.
HOSPITALS STRUGGLE TO COPE WITH INJURED
Damaged hospitals are today struggling to cope with more than 4,000 casualties wounded by the blast.
Outside the St George University Hospital in the Achrafieh neighbuorhood, victims arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.
The blast caused major structural damage inside the building and knocked out the electricity at the hospital.
Dozens of injured were being treated on the spot on the street outside, on stretchers and wheelchairs.
Lebanon's Red Cross said it had been drowning in calls from injured people, many who are still trapped in their homes.
EXPLOSION FIFTH THE SIZE OF HIROSHIMA
Scientists say the force of the Beirut blast was one fifth the size of the one caused when the Little Boy atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab has vowed those responsible will 'pay the price' as he placed the country into a two-week state of emergency.
One Israeli bomb expert suggested fireworks could have been involved in the initial blaze.
Explosives certification expert Boaz Hayoun said: “Before the big explosion … in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles. This is very specific behavior of fireworks.”
WELDER BLAMED FOR DEADLY BLAST
Security sources this morning claimed a welder had sparked the fire which caused the deadly blast in Beirut.
The claims comes as hospitals treated more than 4,000 casualties wounded in the explosion– heard 125 miles away in Cyprus.
Rescuers worked through the night into Wednesday morning in a bid to track down those trapped in the rubble.
The head of Lebanon's Red Cross said: “What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe. There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
Presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday urged the Trump administration and international community to “immediately mobilize assistance” to the thousands of people wounded in the Beirut blast.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Lebanon, and the victims of the horrific explosion in Beirut,” Biden tweeted.
Trump in a White House briefing earlier on Tuesday said the US “stands ready to assist Lebanon.”
HUNDREDS OF NAMES
Television and radio presenters reportedly read the names of people injured or missing during live coverage of the Beirut explosion.
The number of names went into the hundreds, according to an Associated Press correspondent covering Lebanon.
The presenters read the names into the night.
HELP FROM EUROPE
Leaders in Europe offered assistance to Lebanon following the devastating explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.
France was “ready to provide assistance according to the needs expressed by the Lebanese authorities,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that the United Kingdom was “ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”
One of Beirut’s largest hospitals was forced to shut down to new patients on Tuesday after experiencing extensive damage from the explosion in Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday.
The Bikhazi Medical Group hospital in central Beirut had damage on every floor and treated 500 patients shortly after the blast, according to The New York Times.
Dozens of patients and visitors were injured by falling debris and material, and the hospital sent patients to other care centers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in a statement from the Kremlin press service offered condolences to Lebanese President Michel Aoun over the Beirut port explosion.
“Russia shares the grief of the Lebanese people,” Putin’s telegram stated.
“I ask you to convey words of sympathy and support to the families and friends of the victims, as well as wishes for a speedy recovery to all affected.”
EMERGENCY BUDGET PASSED BY LEBANESE OFFICIALS
Lebanon's Supreme Defence Council has recommended declaring Beirut a disaster-stricken city following a massive explosion, declaring a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.
A council statement, read live on television, said President Michel Aoun has decided to release 100 billion Lebanese pounds in emergency allocations from the 2020 budget.
It also recommended ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a committee be tasked with investigating the blast and present its findings within five days to mete out the maximum punishment for those responsible.
PEOPLE SHOW SOLIDARITY
People in Beirut seem to be opening up their homes to welcome those who need a place to spend the night after the explosion left them homeless.
Many people's apartments have been destroyed and photos shared on social media show broken windows as well as debris all over the place.
With the hashtag ourhomesareopen, people have been sharing their location and letting others know if they have space to host someone.
The available houses can be found or posted here
THE AFTERMATH OF THE EXPLOSION IN PICTURES
BRITISH NATIONALSAMONG THOSE CAUGHT UP IN BEIRUT BLAST
Boris Johnson has confirmed that British nationals are among those caught up in the aftermath of a huge blast in Beirut.
In a tweet, Mr Johnson said: “The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking. All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “All Embassy staff are accounted for. A small number have sustained non-life-threatening injuries and where necessary are receiving medical attention.”
TRUMP OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO LEBANON
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he sent his sympathies to Lebanon for the dozens of people killed and thousands wounded in a massive explosion in Beirut, which he cast as an attack, and offered US help.
Trump said the country has a “very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help.”
“The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,” he said at a White House briefing.
“We will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.”
DEATH TOLL CLIMBS TO 78 WITH 4,000 INJURED
Lebanon’s health minister told Reuters that the death toll from the explosion had reached 78, adding that nearly 4,000 people had been injured.
“There are many people missing until now. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity,” minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters.
“We are facing a real catastrophe and need time to assess the extent of damages.”
DUBAI'S BURJ KHALIFA LITS UP WITH COLOURS OF LEBANESE FLAG
Dubai's Burj Khalifa has lit up with the colours of the Lebanese flag in a gesture of solidarity with Lebanon.
The iconic building's Twitter account said: “Burj Khalifa lights up in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Lebanon.”
DEATH TOLL RISES TO 70
At least 70 people have died and more than 3,700 people have been injured in the explosion, Lebanon's Health Minister has confirmed.
This picture shows civilians carrying a victim after the explosion.
WHEAT IN BEIRUT'S PORT GRANARIES CANNOT BE USED
Lebanon has said wheat in Beirut's port granaries cannot be used as a result of the explosion, according to local media.
The country however said it has enough wheat for now and will seek to import more.
US EMBASSY ASKS PEOPLE TO WEAR MASKS AND STAY INDOORS
The US Embassy in Beirut has released a statement advising that people wear masks and stay indoors, following “reports of toxic gases released in the explosion”.
It reads: “We are closely following reports of an explosion at or near the Port of Beirut on August 4.
“There are reports of toxic gases released in the explosion so all in the area should stay indoors and wear masks if available.
“We urge US citizens in the affected areas who are safe to contact their loved ones directly and/or update their status on social media.”
LEBANON'S PRESIDENT CALLS FOR TWO-WEEK STATE OF EMERGENCY IN BEIRUT
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said a state of emergency should be declared in Beirut for two weeks after a massive explosion in the capital on Tuesday, and called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Aoun, in remarks published on the Presidency Twitter account, said it was “unacceptable” that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures and vowed that those responsible would face the “harshest punishments”.
Lebanon General Security chief has said that about 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were in Beirut's port.
Mohammed Fahmi, Lebanon's interior minister, said the explosion was apparently caused by the ammonium nitrate.
President Aoun said it was “unacceptable” that it was stored there for six years without safety measures.
CHARITY REPORTS STREETS WIPED OUT BY EXPLOSION
A charity has reported entire streets wiped out following a large explosion in Lebanon.
Save the Children said in a statement that members of their team on the ground in the city have reported entire streets destroyed and children unaccounted for.
Despite the charity's offices in the city being badly damaged, they have pledged that a rapid response team is ready to offer support.
Jad Sakr, Save the Children's country director in Lebanon, said: “We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today.
“The death toll may not be known for several days but we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked and separated from their parents.”
He added: “The incident could not have occurred at a worst time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the economic deterioration.
“Beirut's main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy.”
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