Dozens killed, thousands wounded in Beirut explosion: Live

Officials expect death toll to rise after huge explosion rips through Lebanon’s capital.

Lebanese authorities have said at least 78 people have been killed and some 4,000 wounded in a massive explosion at the port in the capital, Beirut.

The explosion on Tuesday sent shockwaves across the city, causing widespread damage even on the outskirts of the capital. 

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Officials linked the explosion to some 2,700 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that were being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun assembled the country’s High Defence Council following the explosion.

Here are the latest updates:

23:35 GMT – Death toll rises to 78 following massive Beirut explosion

The death toll from the massive blast at a port warehouses near central Beirut has risen to 78, with over 4,000 wounded.

Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead.

President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

22:47 GMT – Trump says explosion ‘looks like a terrible attack’

US President Donald Trump said the huge explosion that shook Beirut appeared to be a “terrible attack.”

“We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of an event … They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”

The US president, however, did not present any evidence to back his claim.

22:03 GMT – Explosion damages UNIFIL ship, hurts personnel

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said one of its ships docked at the port was damaged in the explosion, leaving a number of its personnel wounded, including some in critical condition.

UNIFIL said it was transporting the wounded peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals and was assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on its personnel.

“We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support,” Major General Del Col, UNIFIL head of mission and force commander, said in a statement.

22:01 GMT – US embassy urges people to stay indoors

The US embassy in Beirut warned residents in the capital about reports of toxic gases released by the explosion, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available.

21:59 GMT – Beirut declared disaster-stricken city

Lebanon’s High Defence Council, which brings together the president and all major security agencies,declared Beirut a disaster-stricken city.

21:52 GMT – Investigation committee to say who is responsible within days

After the council meeting at the Baabda presidential palace, which was also attended by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, the following was announced:

– An investigation committee has been tasked to say who was responsible for the blast within five days.

– The families of victims will be paid compensation.

– Import traffic will be routed to the Tripoli port in northern Lebanon.

21:39 GMT – 60 wounded in critical condition

At least 60 of the wounded people were in critical condition, according to the Red Cross.

The organisation said it had also set up triage and first aid stations to help people with non-critical injuries.

21:11 GMT – ‘Unacceptable’ 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored without safety measures: Aoun

Aoun said that it is “unacceptable” that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures, according to statements published on the presidency’s Twitter account.

Aoun also pledged that those responsible would face the “harshest punishments” and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

21:00 GMT – 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port when they exploded: Official

General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim said some 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate were in Beirut’s port on the way to Africa when they exploded.

Ibrahim made the comments after the meeting of Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council.

20:54 GMT – Death toll rises to 73

According to Lebanon’s health ministry, the death toll has risen to 73, with 3,700 wounded.

20:45 GMT – ‘I can’t believe I’m alive’: Survivors recount Beirut explosion

Confusing, devastating, disastrous: these were some of the words people in and around Beirut used to describe the huge explosion that ripped through the Lebanese capital.

The explosion at Beirut’s port was felt across the city and beyond, causing widespread damage and spreading panic.

Al Jazeera spoke to survivors and witnesses in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. Read about what they had to say here.

20:34 GMT – Turkey’s Erdogan offers aid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, and said Turkey is ready to provide humanitarian aid as needed, the presidency has said.

20:30 GMT – Qatar to send field hospitals to support medical response

Qatar has promised to send field hospitals to support the medical response.

During a phone call with Aoun, Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani offered his condolences and wished “a speedy recovery for the injured”, Qatar News Agency reported.

Read more international reaction here.

20:24 GMT – France in process of sending aid to Lebanon

France is in the process of sending aid to Lebanon, President Emmanuel Macron has said.

“France is side by side with Lebanon. Always,” Macron tweeted. “French aid and resources are currently on their way.”

Macron’s office said he has also called Aoun to express France’s support for the Lebanese people.

20:20 GMT – Hezbollah calls for national unity

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has said all of the country’s political powers must overcome the “painful catastrophe” and unite.

20:10 GMT – Saudi Arabia following with great concern Beirut’s explosion

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry has said that it is following with great concern the consequences of Beirut’s port explosion, according to the state news agency.

The statement also affirmed the kingdom’s full support and solidarity with the Lebanese people.

19:38 GMT – More than 50 people killed: Health minister

In televised remarks, Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hassan has said the death toll has risen to more than 50 people killed and more than 2,700 have been wounded.

Hassan said that they had contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring in an aid plane.

19:35 GMT – Lebanon PM says those responsible for Beirut explosion will pay the price

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said that those responsible for an explosion at a “dangerous” warehouse in Beirut port area that rocked the capital would pay the price.

“I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability… Those responsible will pay the price,” he said in a televised speech.

“Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations.”

Read more here.

19:33 GMT – Israel offers humanitarian aid

Israel says it has offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon via foreign channels, as the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

“Under the direction of Minister of Defence Benny Gantz and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel approached Lebanon through international defence and diplomatic channels to offer the Lebanese
government medical humanitarian aid,” the two said in a joint statement.

19:22 GMT – Explosion destroys Italian civilian ship

 At the port Al Jazeera’s Timour Azhari spoke to Vincenco Orlandini, 69, a crew member of an Italian civilian ship, the Orient Queen, that was docked near the blast site.

He was covered in blood after the explosion threw him across a room of his ship, while several people on board were wounded and taken to hospital, Azhari said.

“I heard the blast and I flew to the opposite [side] of the lobby. I landed on the carpet and I’m lucky; I think that saved me. The ship is totally destroyed – the cabins, the lounge, everything,” Orlandini said.

A civil defense worker who has worked in the sector for 20 years was in disbelief at the scale of the damage.

“I’ve seen the assasinations and the explosions but this is something else. There is something wrong here,” he told Al Jazeera. 

19:13 GMT – Israel: No reason not to believe Beirut blast was an accident

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says the massive explosion in Beirut “was an accident caused by a
fire. I suggest caution with speculation – I do not see any reason not to believe the reports from Beirut”.

He made the comments to Israel’s Channel 12.

19:07 GMT – UK PM Johnson offers support to Beirut

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is ready to provide any support it could to help Beirut.

“The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident.

“The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”

17:22 GMT – Israel not involved in Beirut explosion, Israeli official says

Israel has nothing to do with a huge explosion at the Beirut port area, an Israeli official has said.

“Israel has nothing to do with the incident,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Israeli N12 television news that the explosion was most likely an accident caused by a fire.

16:51 GMT – At least 10 people killed in explosion: Report

At least 10 bodies have been taken to hospitals following the explosion in Beirut’s port area, a Lebanese security source and a medical source has told Reuters News Agency.

16:50 GMT – Hundreds of people wounded: health minister

Hundreds of people have been wounded in a huge explosion that ripped through Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, Hamad Hassan, the country’s health minister, told Al Jazeera.

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