Beirut port ‘is no more’ after massive explosion rips through warehouse
The Port of Beirut ‘is no more’ according to an official, after a huge explosion in Lebanon’s capital ripped through the port area, killing at least 135 people and injuring more than 4,000 others.
The dramatic blast happened after a fire started at the port and ignited 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored unsafely in a warehouse for six years, according to President Michel Aoun.
He declared a two-week state of emergency and that the government would provide $66 million of emergency funds. An investigation is under way into what triggered the explosion.
At least two ships in the port are known to have been damaged including a UNIFIL maritime task force ship and the Orient Queen cruise ship. The Orient Queen was reportedly ‘totally destroyed’ by the blast, which was so powerful it was felt 150 miles away in Cyprus.
According to reports, journalists were ordered to leave the port area over fears that fuel on-board a vessel could ignite.
All of the grain stored in Beirut port has been destroyed and given that Lebanon imports most of its food, widespread food insecurity is expected in the coming weeks.
Considered as a gateway to the Middle East, the Mediterranean seaport is a midpoint between Europe, Asia and Africa and is a major point of passage for ship fleets between East and West.
Beirut port was overhauled and expanded in the 1990s to facilitate larger ships and considered itself to be among the top 10 ports in the region.