Cairo, Aug 4 (efe-epa).- The death toll from a powerful explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital’s port area on Tuesday afternoon currently stands at 63, while at least 3,000 others were injured, a Health Ministry spokesperson told Efe.
That spokesperson, who requested anonymity, said the blast had left hospitals in Beirut filled with injured people.
The explosion at a hangar in the port area where explosives were being stored occurred after a fire had erupted at the scene for unknown reasons.
Some members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon were among those seriously injured by the explosion, which damaged one of that peacekeeping mission’s boats docked at the port.
Eyewitnesses told Efe that windows at homes located more than five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the explosion were shattered and that buildings suffered damage of varying degrees over a radius of more than two kilometers.
The director of Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, told members of the media at Beirut’s port that “it appears the explosion occurred at a warehouse with highly explosive material confiscated years ago,” without providing further details.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, for his part, called for shelter to be provided for all those displaced by the explosion. He also ordered the armed forces to conduct patrols in the area most affected by the explosion.
Health Minister Hamad Hasan has instructed all hospitals to receive those injured in the blast and said the ministry will cover the cost of their treatment.
Images published on social media showed the explosion and a large mushroom-shaped cloud rising in the sky. Plumes of white- and reddish-colored smoke were then seen in the sky above the port area, located on the Mediterranean coast.
Images aired by Lebanese media outlets or published on social media show the damage the explosion caused to commercial establishments and homes in several port-adjacent areas of the capital.