Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, has been rocked by a massive explosion that killed at least 78 people, according to the latest reports.
The blast, centered in the city’s port area, is said to have been caused by a fire that broke out at the port, according to Lebanon’s NNA news. Firefighters were quickly dispatched to put out fires at the scene.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, confirmed that 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate is believed to have exploded, according to an AFP report.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 4, 2020
With the death toll from the blast reaching 78, Lebanon’s health minister Mr. Hamad Hassan has told the Reuters news agency that the number of wounded is up to 4,000.
“There are many people missing until now. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity. We are facing a real catastrophe and need time to assess the extent of damages,” Hassan was quoted by Reuters.
The US Embassy in Beirut has released a statement advising people in the area to stay indoors and wear masks if available due to reports of toxic gases released in the explosion.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council has recommended Beirut be declared a disaster-stricken city and has recommended the cabinet declare a state of emergency when it meets on Wednesday.
Laos and Lebanon officially established diplomatic relations on 15 July, 1963 in New York.