A powerful port explosion that shook the Lebanese capital on Tuesday (August 4) damaged the Saint-George Hospital, killing four nurses and injuring staff and patients, a spokesman said.
Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port, followed by an enormous blast, sending a white cloud and a fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km (one mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.
Shattered glass, damaged furniture, and blood stains were seen at Saint-George Hospital on Wednesday (August 5) morning. The facility's disaster management spokesman George Saad said the damage left the hospital non-operational.
“There are a lot of victims, we lost four nurses and patients, visitors, many dead and many injured, we had like 200 injured,” Saad said.
Officials said they expected the death toll, 100, to rise further after Tuesday's blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years in Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and said it was “unacceptable.”
He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.