Before and after photos of Beirut’s port released on Wednesday gave a first look at the extent of the damage in Lebanon’s capital city following Tuesday’s explosion.
Aerial photos showed buildings and structures demolished and debris everywhere as the result of the blast, which is still under investigation.
Neighborhoods in the city’s central area have been devastated, with Beirut’s governor Marwan Abboud estimating the cost of damages is between $3 billion and $5 billion, according to the Lebanese National News Agency.
“There are between 250,000 and 300,000 people who are now without homes,” Abboud said.
The explosion registered as a 3.3. magnitude earthquake and was felt across the water in the island country of Cyprus.
The disaster occurred due to large amounts of ammonium nitrate – a highly flammable substance –stored at a “dangerous warehouse” in the port, according to Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
“Facts about this dangerous warehouse…will be announced,” he said in remarks on Tuesday.
About 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in the warehouse, according to Diab.
“I promise that this catastrophe will not go unpunished and those responsible will be held accountable,” he added.
Ministerial sources told Reuters Wednesday that the Lebanese cabinet has decided all Beirut port officials who oversaw storage and security since its establishment in 2014 will be placed under house arrest.
Meanwhile countries near and far have expressed solidarity, and sent monetary and medical aid to the country, which is already facing a severe coronavirus outbreak and an economic crisis.
France will send 55 security personnel, 10 emergency doctors, and six tons of medical equipment to Lebanon, according to French President Emmanuel Macron’s office.
Kuwait delivered a military plane full of medical aid Wednesday morning.
Russia sent five aircraft including a mobile hospital, doctors, and rescue workers to the Lebanese capital “to provide assistance and eliminate the consequences of yesterday’s massive explosion,” the country’s Ministry of Emergencies said.
Australia has pledged $2 million in humanitarian aid to the country.
The governments of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UK have all expressed solidarity with Lebanon, offering support in the time of tragedy.
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