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300,000 people left homeless by Beirut explosion as damage costs top $3 billion
5 August 2020, 10:48
Up to 300,000 people have been made homeless in Beirut following a blast which killed more than 100 people.
The explosion at the city's port yesterday evening tore through the surrounding areas, smashing windows and leaving utter destruction in its wake.
Half Lebanese capital has reported damage, and the costs of repair are estimated to top $3 billion (£2.3 billon), a governor has told journalists.
Many hospitals in the city also sustained damage, meaning hundreds who needed treatment had to be turned away to treat the most critically ill, or try to treat patients in car parks.
The cause of the blast has been attributed to 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been unsafely stored at a warehouse in the port for the last six years after being confiscated from a cargo ship.
President Michel Aoun scheduled an urgent cabinet meeting for Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.
Video taken at the moment a building exploded, showed a huge shockwave moving across the city with a bang which was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus - more than 125 miles (200km) away.
Witnesses reported seeing a strange orange-coloured cloud over the site after the explosion.
Orange clouds of toxic nitrogen dioxide gas often accompany an explosion involving nitrates..
Despite what officials have said, US President Donald Trump said last night American military officials felt it may have been a bomb attack.
Mr Trump said US military generals had told him they "seem to feel" the explosion was the result of a "terrible attack" most likely caused by a bomb."It would seem like it based on the explosion," he told reporters in Washington.
"I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was. This was not a - some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of an event. They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind, yes."
Mr Trump offered condolences to the victims and said the United States stood ready to assist Lebanon. "It looks like a terrible attack," he said.