At least 70 people, including one Australian, have been killed after a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
It happened at the city’s port at about 6pm local time, with close to 3000 others seriously injured.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed a short time ago that at least one Australian has been killed in the tragedy, with consular officials desperately working to find out how many other Australians are in the area.
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“It’s my deep regret to inform you that one Australian has been killed in this horrific blast,” Mr Morrison told TODAY.
The blast has also destroyed hundreds of buildings in the area and caused total devastation to the country, which is already struggling through the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
Video captures horrific sound of Beirut blast pic.twitter.com/yMGLvhQ01e
— Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) August 4, 2020
CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman told Sunrise the explosion was something he has never seen before.
“I was in the CNN bureau and it’s in shambles now… It felt initially like an earthquake so I went under my desk expecting more tremors but then I heard the massive crashing of glass in our studio and next door and basically the entire area,” he said.
“We heard the Lebanese health minister saying at least 72 people were killed and more than 2500 wounded.”
It’s not yet clear what caused the blast, however there were initial reports it may have started in a fireworks factory.
“The national news agency said it was caused by a fire in a warehouse containing fireworks, but shortly afterwards the head of general security said it would be naive to assume an explosion this vast would have been caused by fireworks,” Mr Wedeman told Seven.
The Lebanese Prime Minister has since blamed an estimated 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate left unsecured for six years in a warehouse for the blast.
The hospitals in the area are currently at capacity and struggling to keep up with the wounded, with the Lebanese Red Ross calling on all of the ambulances in the entire country to Beirut.
Mr Morrison has confirmed there are at least 20,000 Australians in Lebanon and has urged anyone who may be concerned about loved ones to call the Department of Foreign Affairs (0262613305).
The PM confirmed the Australian Embassy in Beirut was also damaged, but thankfully no one was seriously injured.