According to Al-Jazeera TV news, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun called an emergency cabinet meeting today and said that after a massive explosion in Beirut, which killed at least 78 people and injured 4,000, a two-week state of emergency should be declared.
Tuesday’s explosion shook the city, causing extensive damage even in the suburbs of the capital. The explosion was heard in Cyprus, 240 km from Beirut.
Officials said they expect a further increase in the death toll as rescuers continue to dig through the rubble to save people. Unfortunately, they are still extracting the victims’ bodies.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Officials linked the explosion to some 2,700 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse in a nearby port for six years. The Lebanese president tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that so many tons of ammonium nitrate would be stored in a port warehouse without any precautionary measures. Aoun announced that those responsible for the tragedy “will face the harshest punishment.”
After Tuesday’s tragedy, Lebanese President Michel Aoun convened a crisis management team with the participation of the Supreme Defense Council. In turn, Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a day of national mourning.