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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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.

2:31 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

WHO regional office working to respond to "urgent needs" following Beirut blast

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta

The World Health Organization’s regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean is working with partners, including Lebanon’s Public Health Ministry, to respond to “urgent needs” following the “massive explosion” that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. 

The organization said it is working with the country's health ministry “to make sure trauma supplies are available.”

2:26 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

EU Council President to the people of Lebanon: "Stay strong"

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The President of the European Council Charles Michel has tweeted his support for the people of Lebanon and the families of the victims of the blast that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. 

“My thoughts are with the people of #Lebanon and with the families of the victims of the tragic #BeirutBlast,” Michel wrote. “The EU stands ready to provide assistance and support.”

“Stay strong,” Michel also wrote. 

Here's the tweet:

2:24 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Israel's foreign minister: No reason not to believe Beirut explosion was an accident

From CNN's Amir Tal and Andrew Carey

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has denied any suggestions that Israel might have been responsible for the explosion in Beirut. 

Speaking a few moments ago on Channel 12 News in Israel, he said he saw “no reason not to believe the reports from Beirut that this was an accident.” 

CNN has also spoken to two government officials who both reiterated Israel’s lack of involvement.

“Israel had nothing to do with the incident,” one of the officials said.

2:25 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Here's where the blast happened

A massive explosion shook Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday evening.

The blast appears to have been centered on the city's port area. The cause of the explosion is still unclear.

2:12 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

The explosion damaged the presidential palace, state media reports

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday dealt considerable damage to the Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese president, according to Lebanese state media.

The blast shattered the windows of hallways, entrances and salons, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported on Tuesday. “Doors and windows in several of the palace’ wings were dislocated,” it reported.

“No one was hurt,” NNA also reported.

2:01 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

At least 400 people hurt in blast taken to area hospital, nurse says

From CNN's Alessandra Massi and Nada AlTaher

Around 400 injured people have been taken to the emergency unit of the Hotel Dieu hospital after a blast rocked Beirut on Tuesday, a registered nurse on duty at the facility told CNN. 

The severity of the injuries was not immediately clear.

2:02 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

The blast was felt 150 miles away from Lebanon

From CNN's Mia Alberti

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

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday afternoon was felt in the neighboring island of Cyprus, around 240 kilometers away – or about 150 miles — from Lebanon, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).

"We received a number of reports from Cyprus which seem related to this explosion, reporting noise and rattling windows," EMSC tweeted. 

Several social media users also wrote on Twitter they felt the explosion in their homes in Cyprus.  

"The explosion was felt in Limassol, Cyprus, our windows shaked (sic)," Elias Mavrokefalos tweeted. "I checked to see if we were being bombed," another Limassol resident tweeted. Another person said she also heard the explosion and felt a "light tremor" in the city of Nicosia. 

Cyprus' Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides also tweeted that he's in "communication with the Lebanese government and have informed of Cyprus’ immediate readiness to assist Lebanon."