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Beirut devastated by massive explosion. Hezbollah? Israel? Or fireworks?

Written By | Aug 4, 2020
Beirut, Hezbollah

WASHINGTON – BREAKING NEWS, UPDATED.  Reports and videos from Beirut confirm that most if not all of the Lebanese capital’s port area was destroyed in a massive, mushroom-cloud explosion. Early reports speculated that the explosion and its massive devastation were the results of either Hezbollah or Israeli military action. More recent reports blame the extensive devastation on a poorly managed fireworks manufacturing area, which was adjacent to an ammonium nitrate storage facility.

Officials still unsure why the bomblike explosion occurred

ZeroHedge provides the following details in its continuously updated report.

“Beirut’s economically vital port appears to be utterly destroyed. Early reports cited at least 400 wounded and dozens killed, with local hospitals overwhelmed. While Lebanese government officials initially identified a fireworks depot at the site of the largest explosion in Lebanon’s history (even over years and decades of prior wars), it’s now being widely reported that Ammonium Nitrate, a very explosive compound and commonly used as a high-nitrogen fertilizer, was being stored at the location.”

Updated bullet points:

“BEIRUT BLAST CAUSED BY AMMONIUM NITRATE: INTERIOR MINISTER




LEBANON HEALTH MINISTER SAYS AT LEAST 27 KILLED IN BLAST

LEBANON HEALTH MINISTER SAYS `THOUSANDS’ INJURED FROM BLAST”

More:

“[M]ultiple social media videos from various angles show it happened during daylight hours Tuesday, in the late afternoon or early evening local time.

“Images show that a massive shockwave flashed over the city, followed by an immense fireball that appeared several stories high.”

Video clip tells the story of this major disaster in Beirut

The following is a vivid amateur Twitter video of the explosion via Twitter, as posted on YouTube via the Daily Telegraph of London. Watch your audio levels during playback, as the aftershock is substantial.

More via ZeroHedge:

“ It appears confirmed that the source of the massive blast that rocked Beirut and grabbed the world’s attention was centered on a fireworks depot. Mideast war correspondent Jenan Moussa reports:

“Beirut governor Marwan Aboud calls the explosion a ‘national disaster akin to Hiroshima.’

Fox News isn’t letting Hezbollah off the hook entirely on this devastating tragedy. At least not yet.




“The cause of the blast remains under investigation. But Hezbollah is already a likely suspect, multiple intelligence sources told Fox News.

“‘There are cars with dead people in the streets under rubble, and the medical infrastructure was already at full speed due to the pandemic and lack of supplies,’ one source in the region said.

“Another source told Fox News that the port was unofficially controlled by Hezbollah, thus pointing out that other adverse players in the region could have played a role.

“Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hasan told local broadcaster LBC that the explosion in central Beirut had caused a ‘very high number of injuries and extensive damage.’”


Also Read: Iranian Resistance Summit: Speaking out against Iranian state terrorism

Beirut hospitals can’t handle the number of injured

Here’s a followup tweet.

“Hospitals in #Beirut turning away injured people with blood streaming down their faces because they’re too full or damaged to take them in. (Warning: some visuals may prove upsetting.)

Another set of tweets from the same poster provides more information.

“Smoke from explosion(s) at Port still visible. Shards of glass still bursting from windows and falling over our heads”

“Shopkeepers in Mar Mkhayel are desperately trying to figure out how to lock up and protect their goods as all windows and doors are blown out. Sirens ringing out from disemboweled banks. Man just yelled as I went by, ‘You’re still wearing a mask? We have bigger problems.'”

Latest update from Beirut

ZH further notes that

“The explosion could be seen and felt for dozens of miles around the Lebanese capital, leaving onlookers in shock. It was so massive a small mushroom cloud could be seen over the city, and it was felt in Cyprus.”

This latest disaster, right in the heart of Beirut is yet another blow to this once-highly-civilized country. Lebanon remains at the center of a never-ending battle pitting radical Islamists against Israel. The exact cause of the explosion remains difficult to determine at the moment. Butit remains the cause or the effect of a perpetual, senseless regional war that apparently offers no concluding act.

This remains a breaking story. Updates as they occur.

UPDATING, August 4, 2020 @ 5 p.m. ET:

More information / speculation from the Examiner.

“Tensions in Lebanon are high for a number of reasons, one being that Hezbollah faces a United Nations tribunal verdict on Friday in relation to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

“But what do we actually know?

“The head of Lebanon’s domestic security service has ridiculed the notion that fireworks were involved. He told reporters that the incident is a result of highly explosive materials being stored in a port warehouse. Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim refused to give further comment pending the outcome of the investigation. …while Ibrahim has good links to Western intelligence and counterterrorism units, his central interest rests in maintaining Lebanese political stability in avoidance of another civil war. This is a hyper-relevant concern in the context of very significant political tensions over Lebanon’s growing economic crisis and an associated increase of pressure on the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Identifying the explosives as the cause, while saying they had been stored over a period of time, allows Ibrahim to put Hezbollah on notice without directly confronting the group. But why those explosives would be stored in a highly traveled population center and not on a military base is unclear.”

Comment:

Maybe it’s not so unclear. Variations on human hostages remain a favorite tactic of Islamic extremists. If you attack a weapons depot stored in a densely packed urban area, you kill a lot of innocent civilians. That creates very poor optics.

More from the Examiner.

“Still, considering the popping/cooking off of what appeared to be bullets (but which could be electrical sparks) between the first and second explosion, it seems eminently possible that explosives were being stored with other ammunition supplies… Considering its significant militia footprint in Beirut, and its close links to Syria’s Bashar Assad and Iran, it’s possible the source of the explosion was a Hezbollah munitions depot resupplied via Syria. Interestingly, Hezbollah appears to be trying to muddy the waters. As of publication, its Al Manar news agency continues to assert that the explosion was the result of a fireworks factory fire spreading and then detonating nitrate tanks (…ammonium nitrate is an explosive precursor material).”

– Headline image: Video still of Beirut tragedy, amateur Twitter video posted on YouTube via London’s Daily Telegraph.

 

Terry Ponick

Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17