A massive explosion shook Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday, wounding a large number of people and causing widespread damage, reported Reuters and other international news agencies.
The country’s health minister, Hamad Hasan, said there was a large number of wounded in a blast at the city’s port, according to local broadcaster LBC. Al Mayadeen television said hundreds were wounded and quoted a defense official as saying “the explosion was not caused by a terrorist act.”
The afternoon blast shook several parts of the capital and thick smoke billowed from the city center. Residents reported windows being blown out and a false ceilings dropping.
The explosion appeared to be centered around Beirut’s port and caused wide scale destruction and shattered windows miles away.
Some local TV stations reported the blast was at Beirut’s port inside an area where firecrackers were stored.
An Associated Press photographer near Beirut’s port witnessed people wounded on the ground and widespread destruction in central Beirut.
“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” said a Reuters witness.