‘National Catastrophe’: Massive Blasts Rock Beirut

The story is still unfolding, but early reports indicate a number of buildings were damaged and many people were injured.

The New York Times reports:

A pair of explosions shook the center of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, damaging buildings in several neighborhoods, causing widespread injuries and sending a giant pink cloud rising from near the city’s port.

The state-run National News Agency reported that a fire had broken out in a fireworks storehouse at the port before the explosion. But it was not immediately clear what had caused such a large blast.

Residents of several neighborhoods in East Beirut said their walls had shaken or cracked and their windows shattered. Cars were overturned and many roads were blocked by the debris, forcing people wounded in the blast to walk through the smoke to hospitals.

Even as the extent of casualties was unclear, officials expressed shock. The governor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, speaking on television, could not say what had caused the explosions. Breaking into tears, he called it a national catastrophe.

Local media adds more:

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, visited the Armenian-populated Bourj Hammoud neighborhood of Beirut shortly after a massive explosion rocked the city.

According to Cilicia TV, Armenian neighborhoods suffered damage as a result of the blast. Armenians have been reported injured.

The video below from The Guardian shows the second explosion as it hit:

CNEWA’s president, Msgr. Peter Vaccari, spoke with our regional director in Beirut, Michel Constantin, Tuesday afternoon. He reported that the staff is accounted for and safe, though our office sustained some damage.

We will add more details as they become available. In the meantime, we hold in prayer all the people of Beirut.

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