Massive blast in Beirut, Lebanon kills at least 27, sending shockwaves across city, felt in Cyprus (live video)

A huge explosion near the centre of Beirut killed at least 27 people and sending shockwaves across the Lebanese capital, shattering glass in people’s homes and causing apartment balconies to collapse.

At least 27 people have been killed by the blast and thousands were injured. There were also reports of a second explosion.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the blasts had killed 27 people and left 2500 injured, according to “preliminary estimates”.

It is a disaster in every sense of the word, he said in an interview with several television channels while visiting a hospital.

The blast occurred in the city’s port area, where there were warehouses housing explosives, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources said. A third security source said there were chemcials stored in the area.

Footage of the blast shared around by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast. Those who filming what initially appeared to be a big blaze where thrown backwards by the shock.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze that set off the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses. The governor of Beirut port told Sky News that a team of firefighters at the scene had “disappeared” after the explosion.

I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street, said a Reuters witness.

The health minister told Reuters there was a “very high number” of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded.

Firefighters spray water at a fire in Beirut
Another Reuters witness said she saw heavy grey smoke near the port area and then heard an explosion and saw flames of fire and black smoke:

All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters it was not immediately clear what the cause was, and that there was no indication of any injuries to any U.N. personnel.

We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it’s accidental or manmade act, he said.

The U.S. Pentagon said:

We are aware of the explosion and are concerned for the potential loss of life due to such a massive explosion.

Meanwhile, the Cyprus Mail reported that Cyprus, an island lying west of Lebanon felt the explosion as residents reported two large bangs in quick succession.

One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.


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