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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6:56 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

90% of Beirut hotels damaged, state media says

From CNN's Nada AlThaher

The explosion at Beirut's port Tuesday damaged 90% of the hotels in the Lebanese capital, state news agency NNA reported Wednesday, citing Pierre Achkar president of Lebanon's Hotel Federation for Tourism. The port area was severely damaged by the blast.

Beirut has attracted increasing numbers of tourists in recent years, with Lebanon drawing two million visitors in 2018.

8:00 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

European Union pledges aid and support for Lebanon

An August 5 drone picture shows the aftermath of an explosion at the seaport of Beirut.
An August 5 drone picture shows the aftermath of an explosion at the seaport of Beirut. Hussein Malla/AP

The EU has offered its full support to Lebanon and activated its Civil Protection Mechanism (CPM) in response to the crisis. The CPM is a tool which helps the bloc co-ordinate aid from its member states.

EU officials will urgently deploy "over 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment, specialised in search and rescue in urban contexts," EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said in a statement from published Wednesday.

The Netherlands, Greece and the Czech Republic will participate in the scheme and France, Poland and Germany have also offered to assist Lebanon.

"The EU has also activated its Copernicus Satellite mapping system to support the Lebanese authorities in assessing the extent of the damage," Lenarčič added.

"We stand with Lebanon and its people and are ready to mobilise further help."

6:00 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

France will send military planes and equipment to Lebanon

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris 

France will send two military planes and 15 tons of equipment to Lebanon, as the international effort to assist the country intensifies.

The aid package includes two military planes, 55 personnel, 15 tons of equipment and a mobile clinic able to care for 500 wounded people, according to a statement from the Elysée Palace Wednesday.

The personnel and equipment is scheduled to arrive on Thursday afternoon.

In addition, 10 emergency health professionals will try to reach Beirut as soon as possible to assist the hospitals in the Lebanese capital.

The Elysée Palace said French members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had already stepped in to assist with the crisis on Tuesday evening.

France joins Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, which have al pledged to send field hospitals to the Lebanese capital.

6:06 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Six Turkish citizens among thousands wounded

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz

Six Turkish citizens were among the thousands wounded in Tuesday's explosion, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet posted Wednesday.

“Five are lightly wounded, and the one who has undergone an operation is getting better. We are in touch with the families," Cavusoglu said.

Earlier, the Philippines Embassy in Beirut confirmed that two of its citizens died in the disaster, while eight more sustained injuries.

5:42 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Hundreds reported missing by family members, Health Minister says

From CNN's Charbel Mallo in Abu Dhabi

A man stands in a damaged apartment as he looks out at the scene of a massive explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5.
A man stands in a damaged apartment as he looks out at the scene of a massive explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5. Hussein Malla/AP

Hundreds of people in Beirut have been reported missing by family members in the aftermath of Tuesday’s blast, raising fears that the death toll will far exceed the current estimate of at least 100, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters outside a damaged hospital Wednesday.

Hassan said his ministry was working on an emergency plan to set up field hospitals being sent from Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan. The minister said six to eight field hospitals would be ready “soon.”

Four of the city's hospitals were damaged by the explosion and are out of service, while those which remained open have been overwhelmed with casualties.

Correction: This post has been updated to correct a typo in Charbel Mallo's name.

5:35 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Pope Francis prays for Lebanon in the aftermath of Tuesday's blast

From CNN's Valentina DiDonato

Pope Francis has called on people to pray for Lebanon in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly explosion.

"Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction," the Pope said in his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, from the library of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

“Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing."

5:26 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

The Lebanese Red Cross set up temporary shelters in Beirut for 1,000 families, while a popular ride-sharing app is offering free trips to anyone willing to donate blood

From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul and Nada AlTaher in Abu Dhabi

Rescue workers and security officers work at the scene of an explosion causing damage to the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5.
Rescue workers and security officers work at the scene of an explosion causing damage to the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5. Hussein Malla/AP

The Lebanese Red Cross said in a tweet on Wednesday that it is setting up enough temporary shelters with food, hygiene kits and basic needs to house up to 1,000 families for 72 hours.

Countless homes were destroyed after a blast tore through Beirut Tuesday evening.

At least one hundred people have died and more than 4,000 were wounded in Tuesday’s devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, state-run media reported citing the Red Cross.

Blood is in high demand, so ride-sharing app Careem is offering free rides for people traveling to and from donation centers and hospitals to donate blood. Careem is a subsidiary of Uber.

5:42 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Tuesday's blast caused billions of dollars worth of damage, governor says

From CNN's Charbel Mallo in Abu Dhabi

Lebanese soldiers search for survivors after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5.
Lebanese soldiers search for survivors after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, August 5. Hassan Ammar/AP

Tuesday’s explosion in the Lebanese capital has resulted in an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion worth of damage, Beirut governor Marwan Abboud told reporters Wednesday.

 

4:35 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Lebanon is allocating 100 billion Lebanese pounds to deal with the blast's aftermath

From Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut and Nada Althaher in Abu Dhabi

Lebanon has allocated 100 billion Lebanese pounds – which according to the government rate is $66,335,000 -- to deal with the effects of the Beirut blast, the Lebanese Presidency Twitter account said Wednesday.

While the official rate stands at $1 to 1,500 Lebanese pounds, the rate available to average citizens is much higher due to inflation and the months-long economic depression.

According to Beirut residents and a widely used app that tracks the black market exchange rate, $1 would buy about 8,200 Lebanese pounds for average citizens at the time of the announcement.