Beirut explosion rocks Lebanon's capital city

By Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 8:59 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020
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4:09 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

UN peacekeepers injured in blast

From CNN’s Nada AlTaher in Abu Dhabi

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says some of its naval peacekeepers were injured — some seriously — by the explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. 

“UNIFIL is transporting the injured peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals for medical treatment,” UNIFIL said in a statement. “UNIFIL is currently assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on UNIFIL personnel.” 

A maritime task force ship was also damaged by the explosion. 

“We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support," the UNIFIL head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said.

 

3:54 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Those responsible for Beirut blast "will pay for what happened," Lebanese prime minister says 

From Tamara Qiblawi

Tele Liban/AFP
Tele Liban/AFP

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that Tuesday’s explosion in the Lebanese capital “will not pass without accountability” and “those responsible will pay for what happened.”

He said that an investigation into the explosion will include “revelations that will be announced about this dangerous warehouse which has been present since 2014,” without providing any additional details.

Describing the explosion as a “catastrophe,” he said in a televised statement that the priority now was to recover the dead and treat the injured. 

He concluded by making “an emergency call to all those countries who love this country to stand by us and to help us heal our deep wounds.”

3:48 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Eyewitness footage shows Beirut blast from nearby boat

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Hani Abughazaleh and friends had been fishing off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon.  

"We heard a couple of small explosions and saw white smoke rising above," he told CNN.  

CNN's producer in Beirut Ghazi Balkiz said the initial explosion happened at 6:07 p.m. local time.

Abughazaleh began taking a video at 6:08 p.m. local time and seven seconds later, the massive red explosion cloud appears. The sudden and intense explosion is so powerful a massive, visible shockwave forms in the sky.

Watch the moment:

He said when the shockwave hit the group, it almost knocked them off the boat.

"We saw a red plume rising and people panicked wondering if it's some sort of lethal gas," he said.

"Oh my God," someone in the video exclaims.

Two more videos taken by Abughazaleh shows the red cloud billowing above Beirut.  

As the boat began to make its way back to the shore along the coast, the red cloud appears to have dispersed and a red haze appears in the air.

"I drove home to asses the damage in my house and saw hundreds of injured people," he said.

5:43 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

At least 50 killed in Beirut blast, health minister says

From Charbel Mallo

The death toll in the Beirut blast has doubled to at least 50 killed, with many more feared dead, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters outside a hospital Tuesday.

At least 2,750 people were injured in the massive explosion that shook the capital, Hassan said.

 

3:35 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Rescue and aid headed to Lebanon, French president says 

From CNN's Pierre Bairin and Mia Alberti

French President Emmanuel Macron said "rescue and aid" were on the way to Lebanon following a massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday. 

"I express my fraternal solidarity with Lebanese people after the explosion that caused so many casualties and so much damage tonight in Beirut," Macron tweeted.

"France stands by Lebanon’s sides. Always. French rescue and aid is on its way," he added.

Macron also talked on the phone with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, following the incident, the Elysée told CNN.

 

3:12 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Scale of losses "too great to be described," former Lebanese prime minister says 

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali

Marwan Naamani/DPA/ZUMA Press
Marwan Naamani/DPA/ZUMA Press

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a tweet that the scale of the losses after an explosion rocked the capital Beirut “was too great to be described” with the “biggest loss is the loss of dozens of dead and injured.” 

“Everyone is called to Lebanon’s rescue and to stand in solidarity with our people in all the affected neighborhoods,” he said.

Lebanon's health minister told reporters earlier that at least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in Tuesday’s massive blast at Beirut port.

3:15 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

At least 25 people killed, 2,500 injured in Beirut blast

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

 STR/AFP/Getty Images
 STR/AFP/Getty Images

At least 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in Tuesday’s massive blast at Beirut port, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters.

The cause of the explosion remains unclear.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of injuries in the headline. The health minister said more than 2,500 people were injured.

2:34 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Beirut explosion kills political party leader

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

The secretary-general of the Kataeb political party, Nazar Najarian, was killed in the powerful explosion on Tuesday, according to Lebanon state-run NNA news. 

Najarian was in his office when the explosion happened. He died after being critically injured.

2:33 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Hundreds hospitalized across Beirut after explosion

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

Valarie Fakhoury, a British grandmother with her Lebanese daughter and granddaughter, stand outside the emergency ward of a hospital in central Beirut.
Valarie Fakhoury, a British grandmother with her Lebanese daughter and granddaughter, stand outside the emergency ward of a hospital in central Beirut. Janine Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of people have been hospitalized across the Lebanese capital and many are feared dead in the aftermath of a massive blast that rocked Beirut, shattering glass and damaging buildings miles from the site.

Hospital emergency rooms are being inundated by the injured, with the emergency section of one main hospital – the American University of Beirut Medical Center – unable to receive more patients, partly due to blast damage, according to state media.

The Lebanese Red Cross, health officials and politicians have called on people to donate blood to help the injured in hospital.

Images from the city show cars, ambulances and military vehicles packed with the walking wounded and others who appeared not to be moving.

While officials have yet to announce an official number of casualties, multiple members of the emergency services and politicians speaking to local media have expressed worries that there could be a high death toll.