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At least 10 dead in huge Beirut explosion as ‘hundreds’ left injured

At least 10 people have died after a huge explosion rocked Beirut this evening, with witnesses describing seeing buildings be ‘blown apart’ by the impact.

Shocking videos from the scene show large plumes of thick smoke rising into the air near former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Downtown Beirut residence. One woman stated that all the buildings in her block had been ‘destroyed’, leaving ‘everyone covered in glass and blood’.

The causes of the explosions is not yet clear, but it comes ahead of the verdict in a trial for the killing of ex Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was murdered in a car bombing in 2005. The Iran-backed Hezbollah group has consistently denied any role in his death.

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Local TV stations have said the blast came from Beirut’s port, inside an area where firecrackers are stored. Several videos of the explosion appear to show firecrackers going off in the minutes before the large blast.

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Lebanon explosion
It is not yet known what caused the blast (Picture: @AbirGhattas)
Huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon (Picture: Twitter)
Lebanon’s health minister said the blast has caused a ‘very high’ number of injuries(Picture: Twitter)
Smoke rises after an explosion was heard in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah
Smoke rises at the scene of the explosion (Picture: Reuters)

Lebanon’s health minister Hamad Hasan said the blast had caused a ‘very high’ number of injuries and ‘extensive damage’ to the city, while Al Mayadeen television reported hundreds as being wounded.

A Lebanese security source stated that at least 10 bodies had been moved from the area, while nearby hospitals have put a call out for blood donations.

Footage of the aftermath has shown whole buildings with their windows shattered and destroyed cars littered along roads covered in debris.

One witness told Reuters: ‘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.’

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Firefighters spray water at a fire after the explosion (Picture: Reuters)
A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. - A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, an AFP correspondent said. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city. (Photo by Anwar AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)
A wounded man is treated after being injured in the blast (Picture: Getty Images)
Huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon (Picture: Twitter)
Witnesses described seeing thick clouds of grey smoke (Picture: Twitter)
epa08583643 An image made with a mobile phone showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut, Lebanon, 04 August 2020. According to reports, several people have been injured and large area badly damaged. EPA/WADEL HAMZEH
Hospitals have put a call out for blood donations (Picture: EPA)
People walk at scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. - A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut today, an AFP correspondent said. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city. (Photo by Anwar AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)
Buildings, roads and cars have been destroyed (Picture: Getty Images)

Another person described seeing heavy grey smoke near the port area, before hearing the explosion and seeing flames of fire and black smoke.

They went on: ‘All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos.’

Lebanon is already in the midst of an economic crisis, with the government facing rapid inflation, soaring unemployment and poverty, all worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier today dozens of protesters battled with security forces as they tried to storm the Ministry of Energy in anger at prolonged power cuts.

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