At least 100 killed, 4,000 injured as massive explosions rip through Beirut

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A helicopter try to put out multiple fires at the scene of the massive explosion that hit Beirut's port on Aug. 4, 2020 in the heart of the Lebanese capital. (AFP)
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Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut. (Reuters)
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A wounded man is checked by a fireman near the scene of an explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. (AFP)
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Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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An injured man is transported on a stretcher following an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 August 2020

At least 100 killed, 4,000 injured as massive explosions rip through Beirut

  • Death toll rises as search continues for survivors
  • Nightmare scene ‘was like a nuclear bomb’

BEIRUT: More than 100 people were killed and thousands were injured on Tuesday when a massive explosion ripped through the port area of Beirut.

The initial death toll was reported as approximately 73, but on Wednesday morning the Lebanese Red Cross said the number of those killed now stood at in excess of 100. 

In a short televised speech Prime Minister Hassan Diab appealed to all countries and friends of Lebanon to extend help to the small nation, saying: “We are witnessing a real catastrophe.”

He reiterated his pledge that those responsible for the massive explosion at Beirut’s port will pay the price, without commenting on the cause.

Footage shared by the Lebanese army on Wednesday showed the devastation at the ground zero of yesterday's blast.

When the blast happened windows shattered throughout the Lebanese capital and balconies were blown off apartment buildings as a giant plume of smoke soared into the air in nightmare scenes that witnesses said reminded of them of a nuclear bomb blast.

“What happened is like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions. Nothing remains,” Beirut governor Marwan Abboud said after inspecting the the scene of the explosion.

The city’s hospitals were overwhelmed with injured victims, and the death toll was expected to rise overnight as the full scale of the disaster became apparent.

It began at about 6 p.m. with a fire at a warehouse in the port, a few small explosions as if from firecrackers, and then one giant blast that sent shockwaves throughout the city and was heard as far away as Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

A plume of white smoke turned pink, and then red, and fires burned for hours.

Among the worst-hit buildings was the HQ of the state power company, EDL, immediately opposite the port. Dozens of staff were injured, including the company’s general manager Kamal Hayek.

The blast happened during a meeting of the Lebanese Phalange Party in Al-Saifi, near the port, and Kataeb Party secretary general Nizar Najarian was killed.

Shocked residents poured into the streets from their homes, with many hurt by flying glass and broken doors and furniture. Some walked to the nearest pharmacy, while the more seriously injured were ferried to hospital by car and motorcycle.

Soldiers tried to clear the streets of dazed civilians, some of them drenched from head to toe in their own blood. Volunteers led survivors away to seek medical help, using their shirts as bandages.

Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired teacher who has lived near the port for decades, said it was “like an atomic bomb.”
“I’ve experienced everything, but nothing like this before," even during the 1975-1990 civil war, she said. “All the buildings around here have collapsed. I’m walking through glass and debris everywhere, in the dark.”
General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said. “It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive.” Experts said the plume of red smoke suggested the material was probably ammonium nitrate, a common agricultural fertiliser.




Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. (AFP)

Messages of support and offers of help poured into Lebanon after the blast. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the Kingdom expressed “its deepest condolences to the victims of the Beirut explosion.”

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a day of mourning, and said those responsible for the explosion would pay the price. “I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability,” he said.


Pfizer delays Jan. vaccine delivery to Bahrain

Updated 16 January 2021

Pfizer delays Jan. vaccine delivery to Bahrain

  • The small island state of Bahrain has the third highest rate of vaccinations per capita in the world so far
DUBAI: A January shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the Gulf state of Bahrain will not arrive on time, the ministry of health said on Saturday, but second doses of the jab already scheduled will not be affected.
The small island state of Bahrain has the third highest rate of vaccinations per capita in the world so far, according to the Our World in Data website, which is run by an Oxford University research program.
“The delay ... will not affect citizens and residents receiving the second dose of the vaccine over the upcoming period, according to current scheduled dates and the availability of the needed quantity for them,” the health ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency BNA.
Bahrain offers its citizens free of charge either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or one manufactured by Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
Other Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the emirate of Dubai have also purchased the Pfizer jabs.
US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer this week said there would be a temporary impact on shipments in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost production.