A stunning series of explosions rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday afternoon.
Hundreds are reportedly wounded, and the death toll is rising.
Video taken from a nearby rooftop — and Tweeted out by Arab News — shows one building on fire after the first explosion. But eleven seconds into the video, a second, tremendous explosion absolutely obliterates a neighboring building and sends a mushroom cloud into high into the otherwise cloudless blue skies over Beirut.
Here is what we know at this hour:
- “Two massive explosions shook Beirut on Tuesday wounding many people and causing widespread damage,” reports Arab News at this hour. “The afternoon blasts shook several parts of the capital and thick smoke billowed from the city center. Residents reported windows being blown out and a false ceilings dropping.”
- “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. “It was not immediately clear what caused the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses.”
- “Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, many bloodied, after the massive blasts in the port area, the cause of which was not immediately known,” reports Agence France Presse. “The explosions ’caused dozens of injuries,’ a security source said.”
- The Associated Press reports that “a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital,” adding that “witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris. An Associated Press photographer near the port saw people lying injured on the ground, and hospitals called for blood donations, but exact casualties were not immediately known. Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.”
It is not yet clear exactly what caused the two explosions.
They come, however, at a time of heightened tension on the Israel-Lebanon border, and as the Lebanese Foreign Minister has just resigned and warned that Lebanon’s economy is “sinking.”
Please pray for the survivors, and the first responders.