The massive explosion in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday brought tears to Lebanon’s with a dark period. The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a crowd of about 100, killing at least 100,000 people and leaving 300,000 homeless, according to Beirut Mayor Marawan Abud. According to reports, the death toll could rise and rescue efforts are continuing.
The Lebanese government has announced that all those involved in storing explosives will be under house arrest until investigations into the blast are completed.
The Lebanese, who lost about 85 percent of their grain reserves due to the destruction of the port’s grain storage, have only enough grain left for another month.
Britain has said it is too close to comment on the blast, and US President Trump has said the blast could be an attack.
The port was engulfed in flames and then exploded with a massive plume of smoke that shook the entire city. The eruption was felt 240 kilometers (150 miles) off the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, and there were people who thought it was an earthquake.
President Michael Aung said 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in an unsafe warehouse for six years, causing the explosion.
He planned an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. The country will officially observe a period of mourning for three days from today.
President Aung announced that the government will release 100 billion lira ($ 50.5 million; $ 66 million) in emergency funds. “We are witnessing a catastrophe,” George Ketani, head of the Lebanese Red Cross, told local media. “Victims and wounded are everywhere.”
Government officials said Tuesday that an investigation had been launched into the cause of the explosion. The Lebanese Security Council has said that those responsible will face the maximum possible punishment.
Ammonium nitrate was released from a ship that landed in port in 2013 and was later stored in its warehouse. The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a gathering of Lebanese nationals, who are embroiled in an economic crisis.
The bomber struck shortly after 18:00 GMT on Tuesday. A BBC correspondent at the scene reported that the dead bodies and severe damage were enough to deactivate the port of Beirut.
People trapped under the rubble were shown by local media. One witness described the blast as deafening, and the videos showed cars wrecked and buildings damaged by the blast.
“All the buildings here have collapsed. I was walking in the dark through glass and debris everywhere, ”one witness near the harbor told AFP.