Death toll in Beirut explosion rises to 78

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A massive blast rocked Lebanese port city of Beirut on Tuesday leaving dozens dead; Courtesy Photo

Lebanese authorities have said at least 78 people have been killed and some 4,000 wounded in a massive explosion at the port in the capital, Beirut.

The explosion on Tuesday sent shockwaves across the city, causing widespread damage even on the outskirts of the capital.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear but officials linked the explosion to some 2,700 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that were being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun assembled the country’s High Defence Council following the explosion.

Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead.

President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

The United Nations General Secretary António Guterres has stated that the injured include several United Nations personnel working in Lebanon under UNFIL.

In a statement, Guterres condoled families of the victims and said United Nations remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time, and is actively assisting in the response to this incident.

Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said one of its ships docked at the port was damaged in the explosion, leaving a number of its personnel wounded, including some in critical condition.

UNIFIL said it was transporting the wounded peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals and was assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on its personnel.

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