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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1:39 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

At least 10 firefighters missing in blaze, Beirut governor says

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

Lebanese security officers arrive at the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, August 4.
Lebanese security officers arrive at the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, August 4. Hussein Malla/AP

At least 10 firefighters working for Beirut's municipality are missing after the explosion that rocked Beirut Tuesday, the city’s governor Marwan Abboud said, adding that the scene reminded him of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Asked by a reporter if a fire caused the explosion, he said, “We don’t know. There was a fire, the [firefighters] came to put it out, then the explosion happened and they went missing. We are looking for them."

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," he said.

"This is a national catastrophe,” he added.

1:33 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Explosion caused by "confiscated high explosive material," Lebanese official says

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

Major General Abbas Ibrahim, of Lebanon's General Security Directorate, said the massive blast that shook Beirut's port area on Tuesday was caused by confiscated “high explosive materials.”

It would be "naive to describe such an explosion as due to fireworks," Ibrahim told Lebanese TV.

1:08 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Chaotic scenes in Beirut hospital

A CNN producer in Beirut has described the "chaotic scene," in the emergency room of one Beirut's hospitals, with doctors conducting triage as they try to treat dozens of people injured in Tuesday's explosion.

"Some people had broken limbs, some showered with glass," Ghazi Balkiz said. 

"I walked in, I saw a few people lying on the floor -- doctors trying to put IVs into them. A couple of people were passed out," he added. 

12:52 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Footage shows blast shaking Beirut

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Footage shared on social media captured the explosion as it rocked Beirut.

One video, filmed from a nearby boat, appears to show a white pall of smoke rising over the city. Seconds later, a red plume of smoke can be seen shooting into the sky, followed by a massive explosion.

The second video, shared on Instagram, shows the explosion as seen from a rooftop in the capital.

12:35 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Lebanese hospitals told to prepare for casualties

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

Lebanon's Health Minister Hamad Hassan has ordered all hospitals in the area to prepare to receive those injured in a major blast in Beirut, the state-run National News Agency reports.

12:32 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Explosion has caused a large number of injuries, authorities say

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion.
A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion. Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

Lebanese authorities say an explosion near Beirut's port on Tuesday evening has left a large number of people injured, CNN's Senior Correspondent Ben Wedeman reports.

The explosion caused massive damage to the surrounding area and sent a huge cloud of red smoke over the city.

Lebanon's state-run NNA news agency reports that a major fire broke out near Beirut port and firefighting teams have rushed to the scene to put out the fire.

12:29 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Lebanese Red Cross teams trying to reach blast site

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

The Lebanese Red Cross is calling on its medics to mobilize immediately, and report to their respective centers, to help deal with the massive explosion that rocked Beirut port on Tuesday evening, it said on Twitter. 

Red Cross teams are trying to reach the site of the blast, it added. 

Our teams are attempting to reach the blast site! Please make room for ambulances to get through!” it tweeted.
12:24 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

"The apartment shook horizontally," says Beirut resident

From CNN's Tamara Qiblawi and Ben Wedeman in Beirut

Smoke rises in Beirut.
Smoke rises in Beirut. Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

A red cloud hung over Beirut in the wake of the blast, as firefighting teams rushed to the scene to try to put out the fire.

Homes up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) away were damaged, according to witnesses, and footage from local media showed wrecked cars, apparently flipped over by the force of the blast.

One Beirut resident who was several kilometers away from the site of the explosion said her windows had been shattered by the explosion. "What I felt was that it was an earthquake," Rania Masri told CNN.

The apartment shook horizontally, and all of a sudden it felt like an explosion and the windows and doors burst open. The glass just broke. So many homes were damaged or destroyed."
1:24 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

"Never felt anything like it," says CNN's Beirut correspondent

The huge explosion in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, blew out the windows of the CNN bureau, according to CNN's correspondent Ben Wedeman, who said he saw a cloud of red smoke drift over the city after the blast.

Wedeman said he had "never felt anything like it ... [I've] been around the block and seen pretty large explosions ... and this was bigger," he told CNN's Becky Anderson, adding that he only heard and felt one explosion.

"As far as I can tell there was just one absolutely massive explosion which caused all this damage in the Lebanese capital."

Lebanon's state-run NNA news reports that a major fire broke out in a warehouse used for storing firecrackers, near Beirut's port, and strong explosions were heard shortly afterwards.

Wedeman said the cause of the blast was "still not clear -- if it was fireworks, as some news sources are saying -- they are some damn big fireworks."

Watch CNN's Ben Wedeman from the scene: