Smoke rises from an explosion site at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 4, 2020. The two huge explosions that rocked Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday left dozens dead and injured, al-Jadeed TV channel reported. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich)
Two huge explosions rocked Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, leaving at least 73 people killed and 3,000 others injured.
The blasts hit the Port of Beirut at around 6:10 p.m. local time (1610 GMT), shaking buildings all over the city while causing massive casualties and damages.
The number of casualties is expected to rise as the counting continues. Local media outlets have been announcing the names of hundreds of people still missing, in hope of helping their families find them.
The causes of the blasts remained unknown, but Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi said the explosive chemicals stored at Port of Beirut may have led to the explosions.
"Customs authorities must be asked about the reasons behind storing such chemical materials at Port of Beirut," Fahmi said.
Investigations into the explosions are expected to reveal the real causes of the disaster within five days.
Following the explosions, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab immediately declared Wednesday a national mourning day for the victims of the explosions.
Meanwhile, Diab urged friendly countries to help Lebanon overcome the repercussions of the disastrous explosions.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun also called an emergency meeting of the Higher Defense Council, which later on Tuesday declared Beirut as an afflicted city, while urging the Lebanese cabinet to announce a state of emergency in the city for two weeks.
The council also urged the cabinet to allocate funds for hospitals to help them treat the injured, and to contact all friendly countries to seek support and set up a fund to provide compensations for those affected by the disaster.
It recommended hosting the families whose houses were destroyed in schools, while importing glasses and controlling the prices of all material needed to fix the damaged houses.
During the meeting, Diab insisted that those responsible for the disaster be punished, noting that it is unacceptable to store 2,700 tons of Ammonium nitrate, the explosive chemicals, which have put people's lives at great risk.