Before anything else, our condolences go out to the families of the dozens of people who lost their lives in the massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon yesterday afternoon. While there are already conspiracy theories floating around and speculation as to what caused the massive blast, here are the facts as we know them thus far.
On Wednesday afternoon, video footage showing an enormous explosion in Lebanon’s capital city Beirut went viral on social media. It is estimated that around 100 people have been killed, with nearly 4,000 more injured or missing. These numbers are expected to rise as search crews make their way through the damage.
This is reported to be the most powerful explosion to ever hit the country, and it even rattled nearby islands.
The giant blast occurred at a warehouse that Lebanon’s Prime Minister and Presidency say stored about 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate and fireworks that were previously seized by Port officials more than five years ago.
The extensive damage prompted Lebanon’s cabinet to declare a two-week state of emergency in Beirut, allocate billions of Lebanese pounds for relief, and impose military-enforced house arrest.
Early investigations on the matter suggest that “negligence” is to blame, as multiple officials say they had asked the government to remove or deal with the dangerous materials being stored at the warehouse.
Reuters reported Badri Daher, the director general of Lebanese Customs, said they “requested that it [ammonium nitrate and fireworks] be re-exported but that did not happen. We leave it to the experts and those concerned to determine why,” he revealed. It seems that despite his former requests for the government to take action, Lebanese officials are placing all Port officials under house arrest who have overseen storage and security.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a national address that the government is “determined to investigate and expose what happened as soon as possible, to hold the responsible and the negligent accountable.”
While the president refrained from pointing fingers just yet, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri immediately called for an investigation into the role of foreign actors involved. “We ask the government … for a transparent judicial and security investigation without compromise, denial or circumventing the truth,” al-Hariri said in a statement.
President Trump weighed in describing U.S. intelligence suspicions that the Beirut explosion looks more “like a terrible attack” than an accident. He said U.S. military generals, “seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany says the White House is closely monitoring the situation.
Updates to come as more details are revealed.