Beirut in mourning after explosions that killed 78 and injured thousands
In the smoking ruins of the port of Beirut, in the middle of winding buildings, rescuers tried to find victims on Wednesday, the day after two huge explosions that left at least 78 dead and thousands injured.
The Lebanese capital, declared a “disaster city”, woke up in shock after these explosions of such power that they were registered by the censors of the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as an earthquake of magnitude 3.3.
In the epicenter of the explosion, which exploded as far as the island of Cyprus, more than 200 kilometers away, the landscape remains apocalyptic: containers look like twisted tin cans, cars are charred, the floor is strewn with suitcases and paper from neighboring offices, blown away by the explosion.
Peacekeepers were also seriously injured on board a ship docked in the port, according to the UN mission in Lebanon.
Rescuers, backed by security agents, searched all night for survivors or the dead captured in the rubble.
Currently, the latest report from the Ministry of Health is at least 78 dead and almost 4,000 injured, but it may increase during the day. Hospitals in the capital, already facing the Covid-1
-national mourning day-
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a national day of mourning and promised that those responsible would be “held accountable”.
The government is pointing the finger at a load of ammonium nitrate stored “without precaution” in the port.
“It is unacceptable that a load of ammonium nitrate, estimated at 2,750 tonnes, has been in a warehouse for six years, without precautionary measures. It is unacceptable and we can not remain silent,” the prime minister said. Minister of the Superior Defense of Defense, according to remarks reported by a spokesman at a press conference.
Ammonium nitrate, a substance that goes into the composition of certain fertilizers but also of explosives, is a white and odorless salt used as a base for many nitrogenous fertilizers in the form of granules, and caused several industrial accidents including the explosion of the AZF plant in Toulouse , in southwestern France, 2001.
sending aid from Paris-
Many countries have offered help to Lebanon, including France, which is sending several tons of medical equipment on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron announced on Twitter the shipment of a civilian security clearance and “several tons of medical equipment” to Beirut.
The United States has also offered to help, as has Germany, which has staff from its embassy in Beirut among the wounded.
Even Israel has offered the evening “humanitarian and medical assistance” to its Lebanese neighbor, with whom it is technically still at war.
On Tuesday, a first explosion was heard in Beirut, a densely populated area of about two million inhabitants, followed by another, very powerful, which had caused a giant mushroom in the sky.
The buildings had shaken and the windows had been smashed many miles around.
In the streets of Beirut, soldiers had evacuated stupid residents, some covered in blood, T-shirts around their heads to heal their wounds, while residents desperately searched for their missing relatives.
“It was like an atomic bomb. I saw everything (in my life), but nothing like it,” testified Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired professor who has lived opposite the port for over 60 years.
This tragedy comes as Lebanon experiences its worst economic crisis in decades, marked by unprecedented weakening of currencies, hyperinflation, massive redundancies and drastic banking restrictions.