Two powerful explosions devastated the port of Beirut, causing 100 deaths, over 3,000 injured and 1,500 missing. The deflagrations, caused by a fire in a fireworks factory, are due to “2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate confiscated” in a deposit in front. An Italian soldier was also injured. Governor Aboud: “It looked like Hiroshima. A disaster.” Premier Diab: “Those responsible will pay. To the brother countries, help us”.
Explosions heard up to Cyprus The battered Lebanon returns to live the worst nightmares of the civil war and the bloody crises that have marked the 30 years since the end of that conflict. The explosions of unimaginable power – according to some witnesses heard up to Cyprus, at a distance of 200 kilometers – brought devastation and sowed panic throughout Beirut and in the suburbs. Sources report that many employees were trapped in the area of Mar Mikhael in the tall building of Electricitè du Liban, the national electricity authority, and that a long effort was made to rescue them. On the coastal highway going north and passing near the port, half-destroyed cars are seen for a long stretch, while the roadway is covered with debris. Even at the Rafic Hariri international airport, a few kilometers away, the damage to the airport is evident.
2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded The explosions that devastated Beirut were caused by a fire in a warehouse in the port of Beirut where 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored, seized several years ago by a ship. This was said by President Michel Aoun, quoted by the BBC online, after an emergency meeting of the Supreme Defense Council in the presidential palace in Baabda. It is “unacceptable”, Aoun wrote in a tweet, that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were kept in unsafe conditions. An investigation is underway to find out what caused the explosion.
The US Embassy: “Stay indoors” The US embassy in Beirut called on those in the area of the blast to “stay indoors and wear masks if available.”
The hypothesis of the Israeli attack and the denial The explosions occurred in an extremely delicate moment in a country overwhelmed by a disastrous economic crisis, with the border tensions that have rekindled in the last few days between Israel and the pro-Iranian militias of Hezbollah, and the sentence of the trial, expected on Friday , for the killing in 2005 in an attack in Beirut of the ex prime minister Rafic Hariri and 21 other people. The defendants are four members of the same Hezbollah, all fugitives. Uncontrolled rumors from some television stations spoke of an Israeli attack on a Hezbollah weapons depot. But both the Party of God and Israel have denied. Given the power of the final explosion, however, in theory it cannot be ruled out a priori that although it was an accident, to blow up – perhaps because it was reached by the flames of the first fire – could have been a deposit of weapons. In Israel, it is recalled that two years ago, in an intervention at the UN, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu denounced the presence of three Hezbollah missile deposits in Beirut, one at the stadium, one at the airport and one right in the port.
The wounded walk to the hospitals, which are collapsing On the spot many people were injured in the two explosions and many arrived on foot in the city hospitals. In the Achrafieh district, the wounded went to the Hetel Dieu hospital. Almost all the shop windows of the neighborhoods of Hamra, Badaro and Hazmieh, in the eastern part of Beirut, have been destroyed, as well as the windows of cars that have been abandoned on the streets with inflated airbags. Hospitals are collapsing: medical help and blood are urgently needed for transfusions.
An Italian soldier injured An Italian soldier was injured in his arm in a non-serious way following the explosions in Beirut, while others are under observation because in shock. The soldiers are part of a unit of the Italian contingent in Lebanon. Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini contacted General Di Statio and General Antoci by telephone. “As soon as I learned of the terrible explosion that occurred in Beirut, I immediately wanted to be sure of the conditions of our contingent in Lebanon. One of our soldiers was slightly injured. He and his family members express my solidarity and closeness, as well as to all the Italian soldiers. in Lebanon, “said a minister.
Minister Di Maio: “Italy is close to Lebanon, condolences for the victims” “Italy is close to Lebanese friends in this tragic moment. Our thoughts go to the families of the victims, to whom we express our deep condolences, and to the injured people, to whom we wish a speedy recovery”. So the Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, addressed the Lebanese authorities in a message on Twitter.
Conte: “Support in Beirut, we monitor Italians” Immediately afterwards Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also commented on the tragic news: “The terrible images coming from Beirut only partially describe the pain that the Lebanese people are experiencing. Italy will do everything it can to support it. the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Defense are monitoring the situation of our compatriots, “wrote Conte on Twitter.