BEIRUT / OSLO (NRK): – The house shook. I thought it was an earthquake, says NRK’s journalist Mohammed Alayoubi who is in Lebanon’s capital Beirut now. An extremely explosive substance was stored in the harbor.
More than 100 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured in the blasts in Beirut on Tuesday. The Red Cross in Lebanon informs the news agency AFP. They fear the death toll could rise.
There is also enormous material damage. Large parts of the city are affected. Lebanese media report on people trapped in the ruins of buildings near the explosion site in the port area.
In a short televised speech, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab asked the international community for help.
“We are witnessing a disaster,” he said.
Several countries have already said they will contribute medicines and financial aid. Among these are France, Russia and the United Kingdom.
2750 tons of ammonium nitrate
The explosions may have been caused by a fire in an old warehouse with ammonium nitrate, which is a type of fertilizer. This is what the wife of a Lebanese official of BBC producer Riam Dalati says.
This was later confirmed by President Michel Aoun. He states that 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were placed in a warehouse building in the port area.
In a video, it may look as if a fire is burning near the warehouse. The fire is said to have spread and triggered the explosion, several media outlets report.