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Videos show devastated Beirut, reduced to broken glass, rubble and billowing smoke

 general view shows the damaged grain silos of Beirut's harbour and its surroundings on August 5, 2020, one day after a powerful twin explosion tore through Lebanon's capital, resulting from the ignition of a huge depot of ammonium nitrate at the city's main port.
general view shows the damaged grain silos of Beirut's harbour and its surroundings on August 5, 2020, one day after a powerful twin explosion tore through Lebanon's capital, resulting from the ignition of a huge depot of ammonium nitrate at the city's main port.

Video and photos emerging on social media from the scene of a devastating warehouse explosion show a shattered city reduced to ash, rubble, debris and billowing smoke. The blast on Tuesday left at least 100 people dead and several thousand others injured.

Several videos filmed by residents close to the site, as the blast was just about to occur, focused on plumes of dark smoke surfacing from the building at the centre of the blast. Other videos trained on the site appeared to show small flashes of lights and sounds, similar to fireworks popping. Seconds later, a larger explosion can be heard, quickly erupting into a massive mushroom cloud reminiscent of that of an atomic bomb. From there, the blast wave is seen rapidly making its way into the city, engulfing everything in its path.

The prime minister likened the explosion to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. “I’ve never seen such a big destruction. This is a national calamity, this is a disaster for Lebanon, ” he said. The chemical compound said to have been central to the explosion, ammonium nitrate, is commercially available and used widely in fertilizers and explosives.

Residents recording video of the explosion can be heard screaming in fear, yelling at others nearby to hide, and attempting to dash away from the rapidly encroaching cloud.

Those who recorded video from their building apartments are heard being knocked over by the force of the blast, the glass from the windows shattering all around them. In one clip, filmed from inside a car driving towards the site, footage shows the vehicle abruptly stopping. The device used to film the video is thrown next to the radio, and it’s unclear what happened to the person in the car.

Aerial footage of the city in the aftermath shows buildings ripped down to bare-bones structures, some pancaked on top of each other. The streets are strewn with broken furniture, shards of glass and rubble. An orange hue remains in the sky — the chemical aftermath of the compounds that caused the explosion.

In video taken on the ground, alarms can be heard ringing throughout the city.

According to Reuters, rescuers are still attempting to recover victims trapped under fallen buildings and even some thrown into the sea by the force of the blast. Many of those killed were port and custom employees, or people working in the area or driving through it during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab confirmed that the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been improperly stored in a warehouse by the city’s port without any “preventive measures” to protect it.

“I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” Diab vowed, according to an NBC News report.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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