Lebanon: Massive explosion rocks capital Beirut, several feared dead.
Beirut: The cause of the blast was not immediately known. According to AP, a civil defense official on the scene said his men had evacuated dozens to hospitals and there were still bodies inside the port.
A powerful explosion rocked Beirut capital of Lebanon,Tuesday with images of smoke billowing from the city center floating on social media. Some local TV stations were quoted as saying by Associated Press that the blast was at port of Beirut.
The AP also quoted Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh as saying there are “hundreds of casualties” in Beirut, including dead and wounded.
An Israeli government official says Israel had “nothing to do” with the blast, reported AP. Israel and Hezbollah militant group of Lebanon are bitter enemies, and tensions have been high following a series of recent clashes. Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah Israel would not hesitate to strike again if it felt it was necessary. But late Tuesday, the Israeli official said Israel was not involved in the Beirut explosion. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, AP said.
The blast came at a time when the economy of Lebanon is struggling under a financial crisis and the coronavirus-related restrictions, and amid rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along the southern border of Lebanon. The explosion took place only three days before an UN-backed tribunal was set to give its verdict in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a truck bombing more than 15 years ago.
Foreign Secretary of UK Dominic Raab put out a tweet expressing solidarity with Lebanon. “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the devastating explosion in Beirut today. The UK stands in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and is ready to offer help and support including to those British nationals impacted,” he said.