The two explosions that ripped through Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, on Tuesday evening killed more than 100 people and wounded thousands of others. The second, much larger blast devastated a wide area, knocking people down, overturning cars and enveloping much of the central city in dust and smoke. Windows miles away were blown out, leaving streets looking like they had been “cobbled in glass,” according to a resident.
The injured, who numbered more than 4,000, were soon streaming into local hospitals. Many arrived on foot or carried by others, with the streets impassable to cars and ambulance services overwhelmed. The damage to St. George Hospital, one of the city’s biggest, was so severe that it had to shut down and send patients elsewhere. “Every floor of the hospital is damaged,” said Dr. Peter Noun, its chief of pediatric hematology and oncology. “I didn’t see this even during the war. It’s a catastrophe.”
The cause appeared to be the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer and bombs. Officials said it had been stored in a port warehouse since 2014, when it was confiscated from a cargo ship. As of Tuesday night, the possibility of a deliberate attack had not been ruled out, but Prime Minister Hassan Diab hinted that neglect had led to the blast.
Lebanon’s government had already been facing large protests over an economic collapse, mismanagement and corruption. “Those responsible will pay a price for this catastrophe,” Mr. Diab said. “This is a promise to the martyrs and wounded people. This is a national commitment.”
The destruction stirred memories of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath. For all its economic and other woes, Beirut had been relatively peaceful in recent years.
Soldiers searching for survivors. Thousands were injured, and the toll was expected to rise.
A building near the port.
At a hospital that was damaged in the blasts.
The blasts blew out windows, destroyed buildings and damaged vehicles across the city.
A highway near the blast site.
Smoke rising from the blast site.
Helping a victim in central Beirut.
The scene after the explosions at the port.
Evacuating the wounded. With hospitals overwhelmed, some people were turned away.
Damaged buildings near the port.
A victim arriving at a hospital.
Firefighters trying to extinguish the blazes that followed the explosions.
Evacuating an injured sailor from a ship docked near the blast site.
Some victims were carried to hospitals. The blasts reminded many in Beirut of the worst days of Lebanon’s civil war.
A wrecked silo at the port.