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Beirut explosion: thousands of casualties, more expected

Beirut explosion: thousands of casualties, more expected

Reports say the explosion occurred after 'explosive materials' stored in a warehouse on the waterfront caught alight.

Beirut explosion: thousands of casualties, more expected

With the wounded still streaming into hospitals and the search for missing people underway, the recently announced figures were expected to increase. The Health Ministry announced more than 145 deaths so far and 4,00o wounded people.

Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, has just addressed the country on television. He declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims of the explosion.

The warehouse that authorities claim was the source of the blast had been the subject of warnings going back to 2014, he said.

He would “reveal facts” about the warehouse soon, he said, but does not want to pre-empt an investigation.

“I promise you this catastrophe will not pass without accountability. The people who are responsible will pay a price,” Diab said.

Leaders from around the world have sent their regards and support to the city.

Footage from the city shows a massive explosion rocking central Beirut, shattering windows, knocking down doors and shaking buildings several hundred feet away.

Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut broke down in tears while speaking to reporters at the scene.

He told a Lebanese journalist that he was there to search for firefighters who were on the site fighting the fire that broke out before the explosion.

“They came to fight the fire, and then they vanished,” he says. “We don’t know where they are. We’re here to look for them.

“This reminds me of what happened in Japan, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he says. “I’ve never seen damage of this size and width, and so catastrophic. This is a national catastrophe. This is a problem for Lebanon, and we don’t know how we’re going to get out of it.

“This is a lot,” he says. “It’s a lot all at once for people…”

More to come

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