A massive explosion has torn through the Lebanese capital Beirut killing at least 78 people and injuring more than 4000. It’s not yet known what has caused the explosion but Lebanon’s Prime minister says his country is facing a catastrophe and Beirut is in mourning and he vowed to hold accountable whoever was responsible. The huge blast at the port sent shockwaves across the city destroying many buildings and blowing out windows several miles away. Hospitals across the city were quickly overwhelmed. Officials fear the death toll will rise sharply. It was a massive explosion. It looked like dozens are dead and several thousand injured and a country already deep in crisis has been hit by a catastrophe. The flashes of fire in the Beirut port was initially perceived to be a firework, then something must bigger ignited. They say they are investigating what ignited it. In the meantime, authorities say those responsible will face the maximum possible punishment. Lebanon’s interior minister told local media it was ammonium nitrate which has been stored there since 2014. It can be used as fertilizer or to make explosives. Since the end of last year, Lebanon has been paralyzed by a political and economic crisis and street demonstration before the country was gripped by the pandemic.
The damage is spread across the city and shock ran much deeper. This tragedy risks pushing the Lebanese future into despair. The prime minister broadcasted to the nation in which he told that those responsible would pay the price. Beirut’s hospital is already pressed hard by COVID-19 and is faced with hundreds of casualties. Lebanon will get international help which until now its friends have been reluctant to give because of corruption and incompetence in Lebanon’s healthy elite but with public anger already strong will demand real change at last if Lebanon’s rulers cannot heal the wounded, fix the damage and punish the guilty. As the sound of an explosion rang out across the city windows smashed and buildings were destroyed. From the street, Beirut can only watch as the carnage unfolded. Already heavily stretched by the COVID crisis Beirut’s hospitals were overwhelmed by casualties in need of urgent treatment. As the embattled medics struggled to help the injured distraught locals sought to find lost relatives. People are rushing to the hospital to check on their relatives or check whether their relatives are inside the hospital because there are still so many people unaccounted. The injured has been brought to hospitals by thousands, they haven’t been able to treat them in rooms so they have been brought them to corridors to offices.
Everywhere the whole hospital, every single space in the hospital has been turned into an emergency unit. People are in real shock and panic-filled with distress hours after this incident. It’s impossible to say what is the final toll because people are still being rushed into hospitals all over the country. Lebanon’s president has announced three days mourning and promised to release 100 billion lire or 50.5 million pounds of emergency funds. It’s an appalling tragedy which has been inflicted now in a country that was already really suffering badly because of an economic collapse, because of a deep-seated political crisis caused by a whole welter of things like COVID 19. It’s been badly hit by that back into lockdown, hyperinflation, peoples saving destroyed, real wages cut, you name it they have it and they have got this. Then there’s the regional context as well the Israelis very quickly said they had nothing to do with this. Normally they might leave that open if they had so that sounds credible. The issue with them is the trouble down on the border in the south between Hezbollah- the Lebanese Shia group close to Damascus close to Tehran and the Israelis, they have been locked in their escalation in recent weeks. Now this catastrophic explosion in Beirut will have consequences nationally and possibly even regionally if it further destabilized Lebanon.
Lives are disarray, scores of people are dead, once called port is no more, the hundreds of buildings and warehouses vanished and every single people in Lebanon are drained in great fear. People in Lebanon are in a bad situation with the hyperinflation at the level of Venezuela, 80% loss in the value of the currency, 50% unemployment, the hospitals that are treating patients now has fired hundreds of employees just a couple of weeks ago, there are only a few ICU beds in a country of 7 million people. It maked us wonder how much can a country humanly go through with decades of wars, banking crisis where you cannot even get your money out of the bank, and with it becoming non-existent, it has one the highest GDP ratios in the world of the most indebted countries and looking at the state they are in, they cannot get basic services like getting the garbage picked up, they have 16 hours a day of power cuts, they live on water reservoirs as their government does not provide them with enough water, roads are dangerous and no police to monitor the roads, even the traffic lights have begun to malfunction because the government cannot pay the bills to maintain it. It’s like no lifeguard on duty for a whole country and Lebanese define living there is almost like basically living on camps. With the absence of proper government, they don’t know how hard it can get or how worse it can be.
With coming back to this explosion as soon as one official says one things, the next minute the toll would be much higher as the scale of the explosion is massive. People experienced this even from several kilometers away, first as an earthquake just to be shaken up by the loud noise of explosion. The people living closer to that area has seen the contents of their home all destroyed, practically becoming uninhabitable. People were actually displaced by this blast so unfortunately the toll is quite likely to rise. The highway leading from the north towards the capital was basically a blanket of shattered glass and rubble, tractors were trying to clear the rubble so the cars could go by with ambulances rushing to the scene through heavy traffic and for all of those people around the site of the explosion for a quite a significant distance is that it was a matter of luck where you happen to be is going to determine the kind of injury you are going to have.
For those in the vicinity of the explosion, the question is how are they going to rebuild their home at a time of economic free fall when the national currency in collapse, peoples purchasing power has been decimated, materials like glass, wood, everything needed for basic reconstruction stuff prices are going to the roof. There is never a good time for such a terror to strike any city but for Beirut, you can hardly imagine a worse time than this, where it is attacked by one disaster after others. The main question is that how come all the material was just sitting for six years in a warehouse at the port of Beirut but also other question such as whats the country going to do without a port where most of its import come through while it faces economic free fall.