The toll in the twin explosions in Lebanon’s capital Beirut rose to 135 on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing local media. Around 5,000 people have been injured in the explosions. The government declared a two-week state of emergency in the city.
The Lebanese government gave the military the power to put any citizen under house arrest in connection with the explosion. Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi had said earlier in the day that the explosions were most likely caused by a blow-up at a warehouse at the Beirut port where ammonium nitrate was being stored. The compound is commonly used as an industrial chemical and also as an explosive in mining.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had exploded in the Beirut port, AFP reported.
The country’s government had allocated 100 billion Lebanese ($66 million or approximately Rs 494 crore) to deal with the aftermath of the explosion.
Videos of the powerful explosion on Tuesday showed an orange cloud in the city’s skyline that devastated the harbour and shattered windows several kilometres away. Buildings 10 km away from the site of the blast were damaged.
The country’s health system, already struggling with the coronavirus crisis, has been overwhelmed by the casualties in the explosion. Several countries have offered help to Lebanon amid the crisis.
The explosions came a day ahead of a court verdict in the trial connected with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A tribunal of the United Nations is expected to give its verdict in the case of Hariri’s death in 2005, which involves four suspects.