The death toll in the massive explosion which rocked Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut on Tuesday has risen to about 100 with more than 4,000 injured.
Rescue workers are combing beneath rubbles in search for more than a hundred people who are still missing in the blast which devastated the port area of the city.
President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse close to populated areas for six years. But it’s still not exactly clear what led to the ignition.
Ammonium nitrate has a number of different uses, but the two most common are, as an agricultural fertiliser and as an explosive.
Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared the incident a “great national disaster” and promised that “all those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price”.
An investigation has now been launched, and the committee is to refer its findings to the judiciary within five days.
Meanwhile, world leaders and international organizations have stepped in to offer assistance to Lebanon which is in the middle of an economic crisis and equally overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.