Lebanon’s cabinet has declared a two-week state of emergency in Beirut following a huge explosion at the city’s port which sent shock waves across the capital on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people and injuring thousands.
Marwan Abboud, Beirut’s governor, said more than 300,000 citizens had been left unable to sleep in their own homes due to the explosion, which is thought to have been caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was stored unsafely at the port for six years.
It came as ministers agreed to place Beirut’s port officials under house arrest until responsibility for the disaster has been determined and documents revealed custom officials had warned of the “serious danger” posed by the chemical stockpile years before the explosion yesterday.
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Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the rescue efforts in Lebanon's capital of Beirut today.
Death toll reaches 100 with over 4,000 wounded after deadly blasts
The death toll from a huge explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday has reached 100, the Lebanese Red Cross has said, with fears the number of fatalities will continue to rise today.
The organisation said it was coordinating with the health ministry for morgues to take victims because hospitals were overwhelmed, according to Lebanese media.
Our reporter, Harry Cockburn, has the full story below:
Lebanese president points blame at ammonium nitrate stockpile
Lebanon’s president has suggested a stockpile of more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was the cause of the huge explosion on Tuesday.
President Michel Aoun said the storage of the dangerous chemical, which had apparently been kept for six years at the port without safety measures, was “unacceptable”.
Mr Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Mohammed Fahmi, the interior minister, also told a local TV station that it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of ammonium nitrate.
A BBC journalist who was filming a video interview when the explosion hit Beirut yesterday has captured the moment that the blast shook her room.
All the broadcaster’s staff are reportedly safe after the explosion.
UK ‘working urgently’ on providing help to Lebanon, minister says
The UK government is “working urgently” today on what can be done to help Lebanon following the explosion yesterday in Beirut, a minister has said.
“It is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of us all are with the people of Lebanon this morning,” Nick Gibb, the schools minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The government is working urgently this morning on what we can do to help the Lebanese government with technical support and working with our allies to provide financial assistance.”
He added that there would be further announcements today about what support would be provided to the country.
Earlier this morning, Mr Gibb was asked about the possible cause of the blast following comments by Donald Trump suggesting it might have been an attack.
The minister replied: “The Lebanese authorities are of course investigating the cause of that tragedy and before we have the results of that inquiry it is premature to speculate.”
Lebanon’s PM appeals to all countries for help
Lebanon’s prime minister has appealed to all countries to extend help to his nation in a televised speech, saying: “We are witnessing a real catastrophe.”
Hassan Diab reiterated his pledge that those responsible for the massive explosion at Beirut's port on Tuesday will pay the price, without commenting on the cause.
At least 100 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured by the blast, with major damage to the city amid an already dire economic crisis.
Our Middle East correspondent, Bel Trew, has appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to talk about her experience of the blast and the situation in Beirut today.
As Bel mentioned in the clip, her flat was one of the many buildings in the city which have been severely damaged by the explosion.
International aid heads to Beirut following blast
Emergency workers and medical personnel from around the world are heading to Lebanon today after the explosion which devastated Beirut’s port area.
France said it was sending two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tonnes of aid - with the hope that this will help with treatment of about 500 victims.
Emmanuel Macron’s office said French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon, a former French protectorate, had been helping since the explosions.
Jordan said a military field hospital including all necessary personnel would be dispatched, according to the Royal Court, while Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.
Elsewhere, Jan Hamacek, the Czech interior minister, said Lebanon had accepted an offer to send a team of 37 rescuers with sniffer dogs to Beirut, Denmark said it was ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the country, and Greece said it was ready to help authorities “with all means at its disposal.”
Former Trump aide slams president for 'spitballing' on cause of Beirut blasts
Donald Trump has been widely-criticised for suggesting that the deadly explosions in Beirut on Tuesday may have been an “attack” or “bomb”.
The president said the blasts “looked like an attack” yesterday despite no immediate evidence pointing to that conclusion and no official cause being determined yet.
Brett McGurk, a former national security official for the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations, said the president's remarks were "wildly irresponsible".
Our reporter, Alex Woodward, has the full story below:
Russia to send five planeloads of aid to Beirut
Russia's emergency officials have said the country will send five planeloads of aid to Beirut to help with the aftermath of the explosions on Tuesday.
The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations will send rescuers, medical workers, a makeshift hospital and a lab for coronavirus testing to Lebanon.
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