The scenes coming out of Beirut, Lebanon overnight and this morning are devastating.
A fire broke out in a warehouse at the port on Tuesday evening, where 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was being stored unsafely since 2014. The chemical compound is used as a fertiliser and also in explosives.
And explode it did.
At just after 6pm in Beirut, a massive explosion ripped through the port and the surrounding neighbourhoods – flattening buildings, overturning cars and blowing out windows.
Eyewitness Hadi Nasrallah told the BBC that he saw the fire but did not expect the blast. ‘I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building.’
At least 100 people are dead and more than 4,000 are injured. And in a city where the hospitals were already struggling to meet the demand from COVID-19 patients, this pushes the hospitals past their breaking point.
Lebanon’s economy has been struggling for years under a corrupt and inept government. Protestors have been on and off the streets since autumn, fed up with water and electricity shortages, the collapsing infrastructure and devalued currency. And for a country that imports 80% of its food, the damage to its port is amplifying existing food shortages.
The details behind the fire and explosion will continue to emerge over the coming days and weeks, but the people on the ground in Beirut need help now.
If you can, please consider donating to one of these organisations:
Lebanese Red Cross: https://www.supportlrc.app/donate/
Disaster Relief for Beirut Explosion: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lebanon-relief
Ahla Fawda: https://www.just-help.org/c/AhlaFawda/
Basmeh & Zeitooneh: https://www.basmeh-zeitooneh.org/
Beit El Baraka: https://beitelbaraka.net/donation/pay/
Caritas Lebanon: http://www.caritas.org.lb/get_involved/donate/
Children’s Cancer Centre: https://cccl.org.lb/Donate-Now/
Donner Sang Compter: https://www.givingloop.org/dsc
Lebanon 4 Students: https://www.gofundme.com/f/helps-students-in-lebanon
Lebanese Food Bank: https://lebanesefoodbank.org/donate/
Lebanon Needs: https://www.lebanonneeds.org/donate/
Live Love Beirut: https://www.givingloop.org/livelove/
Regenerate Lebanon: https://www.regeneratelebanon.com/donate-1/
SOS Children’s Villages: https://www.sos.org.lb/donate/
Teach for Lebanon: https://teachforlebanon.org/Home/HowToDonate/
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Beirut today. 🙏